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6 Tips to Outline Highly Effective Job Descriptions

6 Tips to Outline Highly Effective Job Descriptions_Yellow Spark Blog
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

6 Tips to Outline Highly Effective Job Descriptions

Hiring great talent starts with attracting the right talent. An important part of that is to write an effective job description that is concise and draws people in.

Writing a job description is one of the most basic HR functions. With a little thought, you can put together an appropriate job description to bring a wide range of highly talented candidates into the pipeline.

Unfortunately, most often than not, job descriptions are out of date, and not changed at all once formulated, or are all too vague, or do not address the main requirement directly. It’s rare to find a JD that takes into account the vision or mission of the company. And in some cases, the company doesn’t have a job description for a particular role at all!

A good job description should ideally have a standard role description and skills and experience required. Recruiters and hiring managers must place an emphasis on culture, mission and values to avoid making a bad hire. And to ensure you are attracting a diverse pool of highly qualified applicants, you must also make sure your descriptions don’t alienate people on the basis of gender, background, language, culture, beliefs etc.

These days, whether you like it or not, there is a lot of churn in the job market and new recruitments has to be a part of the active agenda. So, some attention to writing a good job description will get high-quality employees and move your company forward.

Here are 6 tips to write a good Job Description:

#1. Keep it to the point:

The best job descriptions include the exact requirements of the role, combined with a little bit of marketing the necessary skills and competencies and the organisation’s culture. The idea is not to oversell the job role or overload the job description.

Sometimes, in the enthusiasm of wanting to portray a young, fun culture, the job description may have funky titles. However, without a cultural frame of reference, using them in your job listings can affect how well your job posting does. People mostly search for roles that match their skills and experience, and so, using esoteric terms like “brand warrior” or “lab queen” as job titles and descriptions can confuse job seekers and put them off from applying.

While creativity can help your job title stand out, there is a danger that you miss out on candidates who are searching for the same job under a different name. It helps to mention only the relevant responsibilities for the role.

#2. Outline the company culture:

Writing a short note about the company’s culture sets the context. It helps the applicant understand better whether they will fit in or not. It helps them make a good decision about whether or not to apply.

In the company culture highlight the perks and workplace bonuses, and the positive things that encourage employee culture. Do you promote flexible schedules? Do you offer free or subsidised food in-house? Do you lay emphasis on fitness? Are you a paperless office? Spell these out in this description.

This will help you get the best fit for your job roles. A bad hire costs money and drains productivity.

Also, make sure you portray diversity. Don’t make gender-specific references; be neutral. Make sure that all the support material, like photos, graphics, videos or other multimedia attached to the JD shows the company’s diversity in hiring etc.

The important point here is that depict diversity only if you believe and practice diversity. Here in the context of this article, diversity is just one example of company culture. There can be many such cultural aspects. Often candidates are put off as the job description makes may promise but during the actual interview, a different picture emerges.

#3. Articulate the purpose of the role:

Write a line or two about why you need to hire for this role. You can work back to think about what has to be done to achieve those results and what package of knowledge, skills, experience and behaviour this will demand. This helps to outline what is expected of the employee in this role.

This will also help you assess the performance indicators for the job. While you can’t judge the performance standard, this will help the applicant understand the things you are looking for to assess how well the job has been executed. This will help streamline applications as well.

If there is an already existing Job description document, review it. Check its structure, business plans and goals. If it is possible to discuss it with the current or previous job holders. This will help spot the gaps and suggest improvements.

#4. Clearly mention facts:

Tell potential hires enough information about your company, your team and the types of projects they’ll be working on. If you don’t provide enough information, you make it harder to find candidates who are a good fit for your team. You may find that many job seekers will pass on the opportunity because they think it’s a waste of their time.

This includes mentioning salary, location, number of days of work if extra hours of work are required etc. Describe the work environment. Make sure you include the top three or four skills candidates should bring to the table. This will help set the context. This will help weed out wrong applications.

#5. Mention the selection criteria:

If you would be willing to consider a candidate who has a certain level of education or a certain number of years of practical experience for the position, be sure to include this. Make sure you mention whether it’s a must-have quality or just an advantage.

Again, clearly mention the key skills required for the job, and if it’s non-negotiable stress on that. It helps to communicate this in the job description to get the most suitable applicants. Even if you’re not desperate to fill an open position, you want candidates to feel a sense of urgency and are compelled to apply. So give a timeline and stick to it. Posting specific start dates can help as will including contact information for a specific person rather than a generic e-mail address.

#6. Outline the recruitment process:

Giving a gist of the recruitment process will help the candidate prepare. The selection process starts only after the applications have been screened and shortlisted on the basis of eligibility and suitability. Applications are screened against the qualification, knowledge, skills, abilities, interest and experience mentioned in the job specification and those who do not qualify are straightway eliminated from the selection process. The tips above should make the process of screening much simpler and this begins from the job specification.

It helps to tell the candidate when the job role needs to be filled. And how many interview rounds will be there, if there is a written test involved or if the interview requires them to travel.

Often due to lack of communication about the recruitment process, good candidates take up other offers and we end up starting the search from scratch. Stating the process and timelines upfront in the job description helps the candidate make a decision while they are considering multiple job offers rather than being in the dark about the status of their application.

A well-written job description is underrated, but it will help attract the right candidates from step zero and will ease the interviewing process altogether. Another good way to screen applications is to have a questionnaire before the person begins an application. If it is pointed enough it’s a great way to save the applicants time as well as yours.

Some of the other tips worth mentioning are to make sure it’s free of spelling errors, formatted well can have a witty or a funny or a crisp tone – just enough to lure in the right applications. It needs to be revisited every now and again, as roles change, goals change, key result areas alter. We cannot reiterate more on the perils of having a static out of date job description.

At Yellow Spark, we design effective HR best practices for organisations. To know more please email us at contact@yellowspark.in

Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.