How to Write an Effective Job Description in 4 Steps
Unfortunately, most job descriptions are poorly written. From entry-level sales positions to CEO-level executives, they all say the same things. Everyone should have high attention to detail and be organized. Everyone also needs to be a fluid, effective communicator who can also multitask quickly while managing client and employee relationships effectively. Sure that sounds great, but is it all practical? Is it all necessary? Is it enough to keep your next superstar candidate’s interest?
Keep in mind your own objectives when writing your description. You want to engage the candidate, offer a brief description of the company and the position, duties, and expectations. Most importantly though, you want to describe performance expectations; how will this candidate be assessed? How will these objectives offer the candidate the opportunity to grow their own skill set?
Typically, describing the compensation and benefits portion of the job is at the discretion of the company. Most candidates like to know what they are getting themselves into, and it is a good way to verify that there is a pay fit, but more often than not, if the description offers the opportunity to grow and achieve more than the candidate has been offered in the past, compensation will not be the deciding factor.
Describe Performance Objectives
Quality candidates want to know what they will be doing and how what they do will be measured to determine that they’re on track and doing a good job. Most job descriptions list an array of personality characteristics and intangible qualities that a well-rounded candidate must have. Not every salesperson who is good at negotiation is going to be an efficient multi-tasker as well as detail-oriented. They sell well because they’re good communicators who are likable and charming, not because they make their bed every morning.
Instead, list the performance metrics that you will be holding this person accountable for. As Adler suggests, it is most helpful to look at your company and the job expectations within specific time frames, such as within the next 60-90 days, 6 months, and so on. These forecasts will allow you and the candidate to measure their achievements against the timeline given to ensure everything is on track. List any tools or training that this candidate will receive to accomplish the in this section as well.
All That Other Good Stuff
While it is a good practice to optimize your description for search by using keywords and appropriate titles throughout, breaking the description up into chunks with catchy headings is also an effective practice. For example: “About Our Company” is a pretty straightforward way to describe the company culture and values, while, “Why You Want to Work Here” is a better heading to use to describe the unique culture your company offers.
Humor is a great way to spice up your job description and will most definitely set it apart from the rest. Showcase your company’s uniqueness and ability to be creative when necessary. You are writing a job description after all, no one said it has to sound like an obituary.
Too much wording without line breaks can be somewhat intimidating. Feel free to use bullet points to highlight key objectives instead of writing a 5-paragraph essay. Bullet points can be more effective anyway, as they allow the candidate to scan the document for important components of the position, whereas too much text can cause the candidate to scan over the entire paragraph completely!
What We’ve Learned
While it seems to make sense to list a handful of traits or characteristics that you want employees to have, top performing candidates don’t want to be told what they need to have before applying for the job of their dreams. They already know that they have the skills to be successful, and so the job description must engage candidate’s interests and address the key objectives that they’ll be responsible for accomplishing while employed with your company.
Keep the description simple and short, utilizing white space and line breaks. The performance objectives should be clearly outlined and to the point. Keep it interesting and don’t be afraid to use humor to show that a human (not a robot) did indeed write the description. Remember, your description is often the first impression that a candidate has about your company, so make it a good one!