Back to Basics: Build a Better Job Description

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When it comes to hiring new employees, there are few things as important as creating job descriptions. Whether you’re hiring for entry-level seasonal help or are trying to fill a senior leadership position, taking the time to craft a detailed, effective job description can help you attract the right candidates, ensuring that you have plenty of quality talent to choose from.

It can be hard to get job descriptions right — a job description that has too much information can lose readers’ interest, while one that’s too short can discourage people from applying. Not sure how to write a job description? Here’s what you should include.

Descriptive Job Title

The first step in developing job descriptions is crafting a job title that accurately reflects the position. While quirky job titles that reflect a laid-back or fun company culture have risen in popularity in recent years, it’s best to stick to a simple title that matches the job.

When searching for job postings, most people use keywords that match their skills, experience, and the type of position they’re interested in. To attract candidates who are interested in the role you are advertising, try to use targeted, specific keywords in the job title. For example, if you’re hiring for a role in the marketing department that will primarily be responsible for social media, consider titling the job “Social Media Manager” rather than “Marketing Manager.”

Job Summary

Here, you should provide a high-level overview of the role to catch applicants’ attention and introduce them to the role and company. You don’t want to get into position details here; aim to provide a summary of the job scope and purpose. If you’re not sure how to write good job description summaries, try to answer the question “Why does this job exist?” in two or three sentences.

Job Duties and Responsibilities

Writing the job specifications section is one of the most important aspects of job description creation. This is where applicants will look to get a sense of the day-to-day nature of the job, so you’ll want to be specific. Write a detailed role description, including a list of the job responsibilities, daily tasks, and any projects the employee will oversee. If you’re hiring for a managerial position, include the level of supervisory responsibility that the position requires. It’s also a good idea to include who the position reports to and any internal or external groups or stakeholders the new employee would work with on a regular basis.

Education & Experience Requirements

Good job descriptions include the level of education and business experience needed for success in the position. For jobs that require an undergraduate degree, list the applicable majors or fields of study. If it’s possible to be more general with education requirements, do so — for example, a marketing position might be filled by someone with a degree in marketing, communications, business administration journalism, or general business. If an advanced degree such as an MBA or a master’s is required, be sure to list that.

Don’t be afraid to lower the educational requirements. Job descriptions often state that an undergraduate degree is needed as standard practice but isn’t necessarily relevant to the position. Does your marketing associate need a degree if they have real world experience or will be trained on the job?

For professional experience, specify how many years of involvement with different job processes or competencies are required. Be honest with yourself about how many years of experience would truly be necessary for success in the position. According to an Indeed survey, 47% of people have decided not to apply for a job because they didn’t meet the exact years of experience required in the posting. While listing required years of experience can be a useful tool in optimizing the number and quality of applicants, you may risk losing potential candidates who would be a good fit for the role and company but don’t quite meet the requested years of experience.

Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

When building job descriptions, it’s important to go beyond the job’s roles and responsibilities to include desired hard and soft skills, certifications, and personality traits. Think about the things that would make a candidate successful at your company. Do they need to have top-notch verbal and written communication skills? Will they be working as part of a team, or will they need to be more self-motivated?

By including specific traits and skills when writing a job description, you’ll attract applicants who possess them. This will also make the resume screening process easier — you’ll be able to easily identify candidates who have the desired skills on their resumes.

Preferred Qualifications

If your list of required skills is getting too long, consider splitting it into must-have qualifications and nice-to-haves. Job descriptions that have too many required skills can discourage candidates from applying, so you risk missing out on qualified candidates who may have diverse job experiences and skill sets. By paring down your required skills list, you’ll attract applicants who have the minimum skills needed for success in the job without alienating jobseekers who don’t have all of the preferred skills.

Total Rewards, Benefits and Perks

When you write a job description, you might be thinking mostly about what you’re looking for in a candidate. But keep in mind that applicants also use the job description to screen your company for the right culture fit. 83% of people say that the salary and benefits package significantly impacts their decision to accept or reject a job offer, so it’s a good idea to be upfront with the perks you provide. This section should include the standard benefits you offer like medical and dental insurance, vacation time, and retirement plans as well as any special perks that set your company apart, like unlimited office snacks or a dog-friendly office.

Sharing Your Job Description with Applicants

Once you know how to write a good job description, you need to get it out there for jobseekers to find. If you’re using HireBeat, you’ll have one link to share your job description and application. All submitted resumes will be evaluated against the job description’s skills and abilities using HireBeat’s AI-powered resume screening tool, so by writing job descriptions that reflect the job requirements, you’ll be able to screen applicants more easily.

Job description writing can be a difficult process, but taking the time to craft a detailed, effective job description can help you attract qualified applicants and fill positions with top talent.

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