What should be included in a job description?
Finding the right people to work for your business can make the difference between success and failure, so it pays to know your stuff when it comes to the recruitment process.
A big part of this is putting together appealing and informative job descriptions that attract suitable candidates for the roles you advertise. In this post, we break down the elements you should include in your job descriptions, and we offer our opinion on how to make these recruitment tools as attractive as possible to candidates.
What to put in a job description
There are certain key elements that you can’t afford to leave out of your job descriptions when you are recruiting new employees. Below, we outline the most important.
Of course, you’ll need to provide a job title for each role you want to fill. These titles should be specific and succinct. Research conducted by jobs site Indeed suggests that job titles with 80 characters or fewer receive more clicks. Make sure that you include key phrases that accurately reflect the nature of the job, and avoid any jargon that might confuse potential candidates.
Your job summary should provide a quick and enticing summary of the role and it should introduce job seekers to your brand and to your company culture. You’ll need to get people’s attention and make them want to read on, so ensure your description makes a strong and positive impression. The summary should outline your expectations for the role and encapsulate the benefits of working for your business. It should also include details such as the location of the job (including remote, if applicable) and the contracted hours.
This section should outline all the responsibilities and tasks associated with the role, starting with the most important. It can be more detailed than the job summary, but keep it to the point. Include information such as the day-to-day activities involved in the role and what the lines of reporting are.
Required skills and qualifications
All job descriptions must set out the skills and qualifications required. Generally, these are broken down into essential and preferred criteria. You may wish to specify education, certifications and previous experience. You could also list soft skills, such as problem solving abilities and communication skills.
Make sure you don’t get carried away in this section though. Listing too many skills and qualifications could put potentially suitable candidates off.
Not all job ads include a salary. However, providing a salary range can help candidates to assess whether a role is suitable for them or not. In turn, this can prevent both candidates and employers from wasting their time.
Beyond salary, there are a whole host of perks that can help you to recruit the top talent to your business, so make sure you advertise the benefits you offer to employees. Benefits could include anything from flexible working hours, to free office snacks, to generous holiday entitlements.
Length of contract
Set out whether the role you are advertising is permanent or temporary. Again, being upfront with this information can help to ensure that candidates don’t waste their time and yours by applying for roles that aren’t suitable for them.
How to make a job description more appealing
There are certain rules you should stick to when creating your job descriptions to make sure they have the pulling power you’re looking for. For example, keep them brief. Although they must contain all the necessary information, it’s important to avoid extraneous details that aren’t relevant to applicants. Job seekers often have limited time to sift through large numbers of job ads, and if yours is too wordy and doesn’t get to the point quickly enough, you risk readers tuning out and moving on to other ads.
You should also steer clear of jargon and internal terminology. Bear in mind that you might be unaware of how obscure some of the language you use day-to-day in your role is to those outside of your organisation or even in other departments within your business. It’s therefore advisable to get external parties to check over your job descriptions once you’ve written them to make sure the language is accessible. Avoiding overly complex or obscure words or phrases will help you appeal to the widest possible audience.
It's also a good idea to get input from a range of stakeholders when putting these documents together. For example, by involving line managers, the relevant team members and HR in the process, you’re more likely to produce the most accurate specifications.
Another tip is to be realistic when setting out your criteria for candidates. Your job descriptions should be an accurate reflection of the skills and attributes people actually require ‒ not a wish list for every quality that may be relevant or useful. If you’re too demanding when setting out your requirements, you risk putting off highly skilled and very capable candidates.
Once you’re happy with your job descriptions, you’ll need to make sure they’re seen by as many potential applicants as possible. You might choose to use a range of social media channels and jobs sites to spread the word.
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