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Top tips for writing a clear and effective job description


Businesses looking to recruit a new member of staff can often find the search for the most suitable candidates challenging. Not only is it important to find an individual with the required experience and the right skillset, it is also essential that they fit in well with the culture of the company and share the business's values. 

Without a clear and effective job description, it is highly likely that companies will attract unsuitable and irrelevant candidates who many not have the right skills and personal qualities. Therefore, it is essential for the scope of a job to be reflected in the description. 

Armed with a thorough description, businesses have a much better chance of attracting the right individuals, enabling them to build a strong and specialist workforce. We have outlined the importance of and how to create a suitable job description below. 

Why are job descriptions important?

There are a number of reasons why a job description is important and should not be overlooked as an integral aspect of the recruitment process. The main purposes of a job description are as follows: 
  • Attracting strong candidates: Describing the role and required experience with the aim of receiving a response from an ideal applicant for the job. 
  • Clearly defining the role: Providing the individual applying for the role with a reference point for their responsibilities and required level of performance. This is particularly important further down the line, at appraisal time or when applying for a promotion. 
  • Set expectations and level of experience needed: By laying out exactly what the role requires, you can ensure that those applying are qualified 
  • Finding candidates that are also suitable for the company: For example: provide them with information about the attributes that they are looking for, values, give them information on the company structure and who they will report to. 

What to include 

Job title 
  • Ensure your job titles are specific: More targeted job titles, which include key phrases that accurately describe the role itself, are recommended. 
  • Keep job titles short and snappy: Shorter job titles are easier to understand and stand out more for people who are browsing online jobs boards. Aim to keep these under 35 characters. 
  • Avoid confusing phrasing: If your business uses specific phrasing or terms internally when referring to job roles that external candidates will not understand, avoid using them. 
  • Use standard job titles: Think about what candidates will search for, which is usually the most obvious and traditional job titles e.g. Management Accountant. You do not need to include salaries or locations in the title. This will only make your ad seem less relevant and will be harder for candidates to find. 
  • Use one title only: Use the most obvious choice. Having two titles can damage your results and make it more difficult for candidates to discover. 
Job summary 
  • Your job description should have a strong summary that includes an overview of the company and expectations for the role itself. 
  • Try to grab the candidate’s attention as early as possible by stressing what makes your business unique. This is an opportunity to really sell your employer brand. 
  • Include an exact location of the job role, which will help the description to rank higher in job search results. 
  • You have 100 characters to make an impact on candidates before clicking on the advert.
Responsibilities 
  • Outline the key responsibilities of the position, ensuring your list is as detailed as possible. Take this opportunity to outline any duties that could be unique to your organisation. 
  • Explain the daily duties involved in the position. This will help candidates to understand the types of activities they will perform on a daily basis, allowing them to determine whether the role and company are a good match. 
  • Repeat keywords from the title throughout, which helps with search and relevancy when candidates are looking for jobs online. 
  • Turn the description into benefits rather than features where possible e.g. you will get exposure to management accounts etc.  
Qualifications 
  • The job description needs to specify education and any qualifications required, as well as previous job experience and technical skills that are needed to carry out the role. 
  • Be concise with the lists you include. It may be tempting to list every requirement, but doing so could deter perfectly good candidates. 
Soft skills required 
  • Include any ‘soft’ skills, such as problem-solving and personality traits that your business is looking for.
  • List the soft skills required for the role in a separate section, and be sure to specify whether these are vital for candidates, or simply preferred. Usually, this is where employers will state if they would prefer an individual with leadership skills, or someone who is well organised. 
Benefits 
  • The job description should include information that sells your business to the candidate. Take the opportunity to discuss factors that would attract talent - including available benefits. This could range from anything to bonuses and pension schemes, to company cars, flexible working or the opportunity for staff to take part in training/education. 
Structure
  • The most effective adverts consist of anywhere up to 300 to 500 words. 
  • Good formatting will help you save valuable space and make it clear to candidates exactly what you want. 
  • Be sure to use clear headings and bullet points to break up large amounts of information and make important comments bold.
Businesses should view the job description as the first step in their recruitment process. In the past, including minimal details about the businesses and the role was enough, but candidates now expect so much more, and they could be dissuaded from taking their application further if they do not have enough information. The best job descriptions manage to be concise enough not to overwhelm candidates, but include enough detail to give them a great impression of your business. 
At Sellick Partnership our specialist consultants have extensive experience in helping clients to attract suitable candidates. Contact us today to discuss your requirements. Contact us
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