Ten things a good quality Job Description should include.

Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 by Adrian FosterNo comments

We are all busy. When we all have what seems a hundred and one things to do before we leave for the day it can be tempting to cut corners whenever we can. 

When you are recruiting for extra staff it can seem easy to try and save time as, after all, you have your normal duties to perform as well. I am sure that this where you are expecting me to say that this is where a good recruitment consultant can help (and this is true of course) but there are still some processes which you have to follow and it can be tempting to try and skip some to save some time.
 
One of these steps is the writing of a good job description; this can seem arduous for the busy manager. After all, if I need a PHP Developer then I know what my prospective employee will call themselves and what they will do all day so why should I write it all down? I agree that, to a certain extent, good candidates will know what is expected of themselves so a certain amount of details that will be in a good job description are implied by a Job Title. A good example being that if I am tasked with trying to find an Account Manager for a client then I need to present candidates who can communicate well with their clients and I wouldn’t need a Job Description to tell me that.
 
However, there are many good reasons why it is a good idea to write a job description. Perhaps the most important being is that fact that in an increasingly candidate driven market it can make your company stand out from the crowd. 
 
Before I detail what I believe a good job description should include I will mention that, as a recruitment consultant of almost 20 years experience, I have written many job descriptions for clients over the years. If you need to write a job description and don’t feel you have the time please give me a call on 029 2002 6467 and after a short briefing I can write a first draft for you to review.
 
Anyhow, here are ten things a good job description should include in combination with some reasons why they should be there.
 
1 – An Introduction
 
Give some details about your company, perhaps detail your key strengths and some short key facts about your organisation.
 
It will help the reader understand a little more about you and why they should apply. This will often be the first thing a prospective employer sees about your company so make it professional and straight to the point.
 
2 - Job Title and Summary
 
Present the job title and a couple of lines about the main purpose of the role. Some of my clients detail who this person shall report to and if they have any direct reports themselves.
 
A clear, unambiguous job title will draw the reader into the document.
 
If travel is necessary then note what percentage of time the employee will spend travelling and where he or she will be travelling to.
 
3 - Key Responsibilities
 
Use bullet points if possible to quickly convey what responsibilities the candidate will hold if successful.
 
If you can try to avoid using fuzzy descriptors such as ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ when describing duties. Some of my clients will organise job responsibilities by hours or percentage of time spent on each task.
 
Clear and accurate information here will help the job seeker decide if they can see themselves doing the job.
 
4 - Core Skills
 
Use bullet points if possible and try to think what skills this person must have to perform the responsibilities outlined above. I often view these as absolute minimum requirements for CV Submittal so try to keep them brief and be realistic; if you set the bar too high then you will not get many candidates who are able to clear it! Having said this some good information in this section will enable you to sift through applicants quickly – if you are working with a recruitment agency then  a properly documented ‘Core Skills’ section should save you some time as it will enable the recruitment company to sift through plainly unsuitable CVs on your behalf.
 
Please note that, strictly speaking, you should not include any phrases such as ‘X years of experience’ in any part of a job description. Equally do not include any text that could potentially discriminate on the grounds of age, sex, race, disability etc…
 
5 - Additional Skills (‘nice to haves’)
 
Similar to those above but what skills would you class as advantageous but not absolutely essential? For example, it would be great if my candidate had some eCommerce development experience but it is possible a bright candidate could pick these skills up quickly when working in the role. Include these details here. I would suggest this list would be a little longer than the Core Skills above.
 
6 – Qualifications / Academics 
 
Pretty obvious really -if you need a Degree articulate it here. If it is an advantage but not essential please say so.
 
7 - Salary / Benefits 
 
Again, detailed information here will enable the reader to quickly see if it is the right role for them. If you are including a salary banding then please state that this is dependent upon experience.
 
Don’t forget any additional benefits that you may offer – pension, gym membership, salary reviews, regular social nights etc…
 
8 - Career Path
 
What ‘softer’ benefits could you offer? What type of career path could you offer the successful candidate? Why would he or she want to join your organisation? Good examples may be flexible working hours, work from home opportunities, friendly colleagues, great clients, chance to enhance skills-set with additional training. There are probably more than you realise.
 
Any good recruitment process should be a two-way process. As the economy continues to pick up good candidates will need to be ‘sold’ opportunities and the Job Description is just the start of the process. These two sections will help you attract the best applicants.
 
9 - Type of Employment 
 
Clear information on the type of role will help here. Is it permanent, part-time (if so, what are the hours?), freelance, contract, full time etc…
 
10 – Call to Action 
 
You may want to highlight what is involved at the interview stage be it a test, presentation etc… This is optional; I have some clients which include this information here so the candidate is aware of what is expected of them during the recruitment process.
 
Lastly you would be surprised at the number of job descriptions out there that lack any type of contact information for applicants. Make sure the potential applicant knows where he or she should send their CV / Portfolio.

I hope this helps a little. Get in touch if you think I can help with any recruitment activity your company is planning. All recruitment services are provided on a 'no placement-no fee' basis and our fees are very competitive. Take a look at some of client and candidates testimonials in the resource section of this website. 

Thank you for reading. 

Adrian 
a.foster@prosper-is.com
Office DD - 029 2002 6467

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