Top 10 Tips for Writing an Effective Job Description

By Roberta Fisher, Gadd Business Consultant

Have you ever taken a job and it turned out not to be what you told or thought?  To make sure your candidate does not have the same experience make sure your job description for the position you are filling is precise and accurate.  You don’t just want a person in a seat, you need to have an employee that meets your expectations and requirements.

To make sure your job description is informative to the prospective employee follow the guidelines below to ensure you are providing all the information that they would need to know when deciding if this is the job for them and at the same time, if they are the person you need.

Choose a Clear, Concise Title for the Position

Repeat the title of the position to yourself a couple of time.  If you are not clear on what it means after saying it a few times, it probably is too long a title or needs to be changes to something less ambiguous.  

Paint a picture of the Position

It’s not enough to list only the qualifications for the job, tell them about the company. Be sure to tell prospective employees about the company, their team/department and the nature of the projects they could be working on. 

Describe the Work Environment

Inform the candidate about the setting of where they will be working, will it be noisy, secluded, will they have to operate any equipment/machines in order to do their job.  This will assist them in deciding if this is the job for them before spending time on training

Spell Out the Skills That Matter Most to You

List the top four or five skill sets needed in order to do the job.  This will reduce the candidates who apply without the needed credentials.

Include Any Educational Requirements

Make sure the level of education/degree that you specify that are needed are a “must have” and not just something you wish for or would be a benefit to have.

Outline Day-to-Day Duties

Provide an accurate description of what the day-to-day tasks would include in the present time.  Do not try to provide a description of potential or future projects.

Watch your Words

The job description should list only the duties and responsibilities the person would oversee.  Personal characteristics should be a second thought, if at all in the description.  (Be careful of using words like hard working, attention to details, etc.)

Be sure to use gender neutral language within the description.  You may want to get legal advice for the actual wording.

Use Descriptive Adverbs

To Appeal to the type of person you would like to fill the position use appealing and interesting words to describe the duties and responsibilities of the position.  Use words that would excite you to apply for the position.

Clearly Describe What You Would consider “Success” in This Role

Be clear as to how a person would be considered as being a “success” in this position.  Lists the standards that are utilized to define a person in this position as “successful”.

Include Compensation

Indicate a range or figure a person would be earning in this position.  If this is a new position, research what other companies are currently paying who employ people in this or in a similar capacity. 

Additional Notes

Take the time to review your job description to be sure the document is free from error or omissions.  Additional duties or responsibilities can be added or deleted throughout the course of a year, therefore, this document should be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis.  Every position in the company should have a similar document that is also reviewed and updated on a regular basis. 

You may want to list the position internally first and interview current employees that are interested in this position, provided they have the skill set for the position. 

The job description is the basis for finding the best applicants for the company’s available positions.  It also provides a measurement against which you can evaluate potential applicants to. 


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