Best Practices for Writing a Job Description

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Today’s job market already faces a daunting skills gap, and when hiring managers and employers are unable to craft a realistic and successful job description, this gap only widens as they fail to attract and align with the talent and skill sets needed to fill the role(s). Employers must do their part in combatting the skills gap – and attaining the best possible talent for their own benefit – by understanding how a strong job description is crafted. Anyone hoping to hire the perfect candidate must master this mundane but critical skill.

The job description must cater to the most prominent needs of the role, maintain a level of realism, and be worded in a way that catches the attention of the right people.

Begin with a strong, accurate title

Descriptions and titles have a huge influence on whom your job posting attracts and when. A poor title can deter qualified candidates or skew their perception of your organization altogether. One crucial exploration that every company should consider when crafting a job title is, “what is the entry level and expectation for this role, and how does that align with a title?” In other words, do not refer to a position as a “ _ management” position if there is no management involved. Companies, especially those small to mid-sized, must undergo an important process of understanding what each title and employee layer refers to. Each title, especially if it involves leadership, should have a very clear definition. Once a definition is set, it is much easier to understand the level of experience that you should be hiring for for any given role. Once you’ve established the proper level of experience and the associated term for this level, ask yourself what the primary function or ideal outcome of this role would be. What does success look like in six months? One year? Frame a title around this exploration, as it should point to the primary function of the job. Establishing the most important function, or the key role that should require at least 60 percent of the individual’s time, often leads to a helpful, clear job title.

Craft a realistic, clear description of the role

When drawing up the body of the job description, it is critical that you avoid the temptation of describing the “unicorn candidate.” There is certainly a place for ideal backgrounds within a job description, but it is also helpful to maintain a level of realism. At the end of the day, what is the function(s) of this role? Be clear and specific. Hone in on the top 3-5 duties of the job and ensure that you use language that anyone could understand without requiring a high level of background information on your company or internal vernacular. It’s also helpful to categorize the requirements for yourself prior to crafting a description. Create a column of “must-haves” and another column for “willing to develop.” Sometimes, the best candidate is the one who is qualified for the basic tasks ahead of them, but who does require some investment in terms of developing other skills associated with the job. Stay open minded for a candidate who aligns well with your own definition of “primary functions” and who is coachable for a long-term investment in other areas. Downplay any required skills that aren’t required to accomplish the most important tasks on a daily basis (note: this doesn’t mean you need to remove these desired skills altogether).

Emphasize your company’s culture

Personality and cultural fit should never be underestimated, as they can make or break the success of a small to mid-sized company. Establish what you believe to be some of the driving principles and values behind your company and create a picture of how your team works. Is it a scrappy, startup environment, or a process-driven hierarchy with consistent workflow? Find ways of letting your company’s culture come through in the job description in order to attract the best possible fit for the team.

At Adecco, we help our clients to create the most beneficial recruitment strategies for their specific needs.

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