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10 tips to write the perfect job description

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Alexandre Diard
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Employees are the lifeblood of any organization. They invest their talent, capacity, and human resources to ensure that the company they work for can deliver every bit of their promises to clients. Recruiting the perfect candidate for a position in any organization is becoming harder due to certain factors, such as the lack of recruiting strategy and the inability to define the job in a job description. Proper job descriptions are needed to filter out irrelevant applicants and help employers focus on getting the right candidate who will deliver the core values their company desires. Your job description is a priority when it comes to recruiting the perfect candidate so follow the tips below when writing your job description.

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What is a job description?

A job description is a document that clearly states the requirements, duties, responsibilities and skills required to perform a specific role. Job descriptions are used by companies and recruiters to attract potential candidates to the role.

Here are our tips on how to write the perfect job description:

1. Be creative with the title in your job description

The first step to writing a job description that works is the title. You have to get the title right in the job description because that is the first thing everybody sees. The title of your job description must describe specifically the kind of job and duties to be performed. You should also be creative about it. You want in a job decription something that will attract attention the moment someone sets their eyes on it. A good job description title should be easy to understand and very self-explanatory, so that job seekers don’t have to read the rest of the job description before they know what you are looking for.

Since you’re posting the job description online, you also want to make sure the job description contains popular keywords people use to search for such jobs. Make sure you pick a title that is free of gender or age implication, and generic enough to be compared to other similar jobs in the industry. Avoid sounding too technical or superlative in your job description because that would cause more harm than good. Keep your job description easy to read and understand. 

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2. Think about your ideal candidate when writing your job description

Visualize the candidate you would ideally like to recruit and what your standard of success would be for their performance when writing your job description. Develop a profile of your perfect recruit which you can match against applicants. That is not to say you should be rigid when picturing your ideal candidate but having an idea of the type of person who would fit in well in the department and who matches the job profile perfectly is a good start when it comes to interviews.

3. Be concise with the job duties in your job description

Most people looking for a job expect to see boring and long job duties in the job description. While every company’s HR department may be doing it, you might want to take a step away from the crowd a little bit. Boring, straightforward, and juice-lacking job descriptions will only get read halfway, and your best candidates are leaving your page already. What can you do? Make your job description exciting and fun to read. Put one or two points in your job description that make it look like you’re trying to tell a story about what your company values. 

Make your job description short. The shorter, the better. The ideal length for job duties section in your job description should be about four to five sentences. Try as much as possible to explain the job seeker’s duties in fewer words in the job description and see how many people want to work with such efficient and resourceful organization. Remember you have a very short time to capture the attention of the right candidate with your job description, so make every second count.

Don’t forget to use keywords in your job description; they help more candidates find you and improve your chances of hiring the right people. Rank your recruiting priorities in your job description, like duties, background, and skills from the highest to the lowest, and be flexible, showing that the job has the potential for growth and development in the future. Don’t forget to start with a catchy title and introduction in your job description, simplify the job duties, and make everything simple and easy to understand. Job descriptions should be readable and engaging  and job descriptions

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4. Only the most critical skills should be listed in your job description

One common mistake made by many HR departments is mixing skills and competence in a job description as if they are the same thing. In fact, the skills themselves need to be separated in the job description. Candidates looking for work take this part of the job description very seriously because they don’t want to be in a job position they can’t handle or is not their core competence.

A good job description must have skills and competence sections separated because they are two different things. Skills are what you acquire by learning or practice, e.g., the ability to design a great graphical content. Competence is an inert ability that helps you deliver better capacity, e.g., communication. You should also separate the skills in your job description into two including "must have" and "preferred." This makes your job description more realistic since it can be hard to find candidates with all the skills that you want. Be clear with your desire for the kind of candidate you want and make sure that every word you put on that page of the job description has a reason to be there.

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5. Explain the working relationships in your job description

It is important to explain the working relationships and working lines in job descriptions to clarify the responsibilities of the candidate by describing who the candidate reports to and who, if anyone, reports to them. This is important because it lets the candidate know their place in the hierarchy of the company and how the company and department are structured. Also, good working relationships are essential for employee integration and well-being so it might be comforting for a potential new employee to know where they will fit in if successful.

Think about giving an indication of the size of the department as well in your job description. Some people might be put off by a department of 30 employees whereas others might appreciate having a large teamYou could even go one step further and include a department organizational chart in your job description, although this is in no way obligatory.

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6. Let your job description reflect the voice of your company

Every company has its own value system, morals, and other factors that determine how they operate. To attract more candidates to job listings, job descriptions should stand out by presenting a visual and distinct company voice. This should be visible in every section and aspect of your job description so that once someone starts reading the job description they have an idea of what you represent. Describe your company’s HR solution culture in tiny details in your job description so you can attract the kind of candidate that will fit in.

You should also be conscious of diversity as regards to the type of person you want to get into the position in your office. Find out about other values you can add to your job description so it can be more appealing to a wide selection of candidates. You need people with new ideas, different ways of doing things, candidates who will challenge the status quo and strive to make a difference. In short, attract different sorts of people with your job description.

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7. Hint on growth and development in your job description 

Everyone wants to work in an organization where they can make contributions, grow, and improve their careers. One of the best ways top companies recruit great talents is assuring them of the opportunity for growth and development. While writing your job description, hint on how the job will contribute to business objectives, the potential for businesses and operational advancement, and ways the candidate’s position will help add to that. The job description should entice ambitious people who are attracted by the possible opportunities cited in the job description.

Talk about your company in your job description: what your company is doing in the larger industry to implement new technology that will spur growth, and how the candidate’s skills will help the organization achieve their purpose. Your job description should also try to attract candidates who are action-driven and want to be part of a company that is progressive. Data should be included on companies' projected growth increase in job descriptions and candidates should be invited to be part of a team to achieve new milestones in the company.

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8. Do not add a salary amount to a job description

it is not a good idea to add a salary to job descriptions. Instead, a company should include a competitive salary range to the job description that works with their company’s HR solution needs. 

9. List the benefits in your job description

Candidates need a compelling reason to leave their current company, where they are perhaps very comfortable and have certain benefits granted for years of service. Give them a reason to choose your company over their current one. Use the job description to give the perks that come with the job (bonuses, compensation for reaching targets, healthcare, savings plans, team-building events or trips, gifts given to employees at Christmas, for example). The benefits are often the real pull to a company if they are interesting, especially bonuses, as they can often top up a salary considerably and are very attractive to potential recruits.

10. End your job description with a proposition

Job descriptions are like a sales pitch and you can use a call to action at the end of your job description to reel your potential applicants in and impel them to take the next step and apply for the job. Make the steps of the application process simple so they can act quickly.

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Here are a few dos and don’ts for writing job descriptions:

The "DOs" for writing job descriptions:

- Use a factual and impersonal style when writing job descriptions
- Base job descriptions on the department’s needs
- Use complete sentences
- Write an accurate and concise job description
- Keep sentence structure as simple as possible, leaving out unnecessary words (for example, “in order to”)
- Be precise in your job description
- Focus on essential activities
- Use a logical order in your job description when describing responsibilities and duties

The "DON’Ts for writing job descriptions:

- Use abbreviations – don’t use terms that only someone already working in the department would understand
- Use the narrative form in your job description
- Write the job description as a step-by-step guide of the position you are recruiting for
- Include minor tasks in your job description that won’t be carried out often and are not part of the main duties of the role
- Waffle! Job descriptions cannot be pages long so you need to add the most important and essential information only

Remember this about your job description:

- Your job description is what will attract potential candidates to your company
- It must therefore be enticing with the advantages highlighted
- Your job description must make the position sound exciting and compelling
- It must make the job clear so there is no doubt as to what the candidate is applying for
- Your job description is the first entrance to your company for potential new employees. Make your company sounds attractive in the job description

Follow these tips on how to write a job description

... and find the perfect candidate! 

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