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How to write an effective job description
The search to find the best candidate for open roles within an organisation can be a complicated one. Especially for specialised roles, it can be tough to find the candidate with the right match in terms of experience, education and skill sets. When you add in culture fit and soft skills, the criteria gets even tighter.
If hiring managers want to avoid sorting through piles of resumes and CVs that don’t quite fit the bill, they should start from the beginning before even posting an opening – refining the job description. An effective job description raises your chances of finding the right person from the sea of applicants, and will help save time and money in the search in the end.
The job description should accurately and complete give job seekers three main points of information:
- What is the background of your company and what the culture like?
- What are the specifics of the tasks, duties and measures of success for the open role?
What are your hard and soft requirements for a successful candidate.
If a job description has these three elements, you can get as creative or not as you’d like with the language, or as you convey the requirements. If you’re a star-up or less traditional company, use language and formats to convey that attitude. If you are a more traditional company with hierarchy, the candidate should also be able to tell just from the job description.
Start with the three elements above, and take the following into consideration:
Define the position objectives and responsibilities
Position descriptions should include objectives that clearly explain the purpose of the job. Outline the responsibilities and duties grouped together in key areas and list both ongoing and daily duties in order of importance. Explain the role using terms that are familiar to the candidates you are targeting so as to clearly demonstrate the depth of accountability and authority of the position.
Introduce associated roles and relationships
An understanding about the workplace relationships the role is required to develop provides extra context on the breadth of the position. Outline how the position interacts with other people in the business and the levels of authority the people in the relationship have. Also detail lines of internal and external communication and any other relationship management required by the position.
Outline the position qualifications
For the best chance of attracting the right candidate, it is important to list the criteria that they must have to be considered for the job. This includes specifications for education, experience, knowledge, technical skills and any transferable skills. By linking these to the responsibilities of the position, job seekers can determine if they have the necessary qualifications, experience and skills to complete the required tasks.
Identify the logistics of the job
It is useful to detail the practical aspects of the job to further help candidates assess their suitability for the role. Include the positions location, equipment or systems used, salary and bonus or incentive details, term of employment, department the position is part of and performance review procedures.
List benefits, salary ranges and other perks
Especially in competitive industries, applications that list salary and benefits have been found to receive XX% more applications than those without. It’s not necessary to list specific salary or benefits, but giving candidates an idea of “what else is in it for them” may be key to attracting those candidates who would not normally apply.
Ensure attention to detail
If you have specific application requirements (such as including a writing sample, or only sending a CV, or would like a specific statement of interest), try putting those requirements at the end of the job description to ensure that the applicant has read through the entire text and understands exactly what needs to be done. You can also request a specific subject in the email subject line, or the answer to a specific question in the body of an email.
This ensures that the person applying has thoroughly read the job description, and has paid enough attention to it to do exactly as you request.
Overall, be clear, concise and informative to have the best chance at finding the right candidates. The right description will bring you the right calibre and type of candidates – creating a great place to start when finding your next great hire.