Why Are Job Descriptions Important?
Job descriptions are a great way to get candidates excited about your job openings and show off your company culture.
Job descriptions, or job postings, are often the first thing job seekers see. A good job description can provide expectations for a role and can be used as a framework for new hires during onboarding. Conversely, a poor job description can lead to confusion about the job role and expectations which could result in dissatisfaction, poor performance, and turnover.
To support hiring managers, we have created job description templates for servers, sales associates, and other common positions small businesses hire for. We have also created a guide on the sections of a great job description, along with examples to help you write your own to attract qualified candidates.
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How to Create a Great Job Description
Creating a great and effective job description does not have to be hard. At CareerPlug, we like to break down our job descriptions into sections. Think of these sections as ingredients of a great job post. To make the best meal, you need to use the best ingredients.
Do’s and Don’ts of a Great Job Description
Before we get into which sections, or ingredients, make a great job description, let’s go over the do’s and don’ts when crafting job descriptions:
Have the tone and language of your job description follow the tone and language of your company. If your company uses a more fun tone, have that shine throughout your job description. If your company is more formal, use that tone. Whatever your company’s personality is, try to mirror that in your job post.
Talk to Someone Familiar with the Job
This is the best way to know what responsibilities and expectations to include in a job description. Spend time with this potential new employee’s team and people who have had experience with the role. Gather as many details as possible from these employees and ask them what responsibilities, expectations, and qualifications should be included in the job posting.
Don’t Worry About Length Too Much
The length of a job description will vary from position to position. If you download our job description templates, you will notice that the templates are about the same length. That’s because, generally speaking, job descriptions with 300-800 words perform best in terms of apply rates. Job descriptions need to be an overview of a job. You can always include more procedural details in an employee manual or handbook during onboarding.
Don’t Include Company Jargon or Acronyms
Try to use words and phrases that are common. Using common words and phrases will reduce confusion and make it easier for your job description to show up in searches. If you are unsure about including a word or phrase, a quick web search should reveal if others are using those words and phrases in job posts.
As we go through the sections to create a job description, these do’s and don’ts will serve as guidelines. Following this list will help to make your job post as compelling and relevant as possible to job seekers.
Parts of a Great Job Description
Now that we have covered the do’s and don’ts of a great job description, it’s time to jump into what parts you need to make your job description great. Following these guidelines and the structure outlined will help you write a great job description and attract more applicants. You can also use our job description templates as a starting point.
The job title is arguably the most important piece of a job description. This is the first thing that catches a job seekers attention when they search for jobs. . When writing your job title, try researching similar jobs to yours and make note of the titles that are being used. You want to use titles that are most commonly searched by the candidates you seek.
Here are some tips to help you write a great job title:
- Avoid using internal titles – job seekers probably won’t be searching for these terms and they can lead to confusion
- Avoid buzzwords – while eye-catching, these terms are rarely searched. An example of this might be using “sales superstar” or “marketing ninja”
- Try to describe the work being performed – including your industry can work to help you find more qualified candidates and narrow down your applicant pool
- Include level of work – if your position is an entry-level, mid-level, or senior position, try including that in your title to better target candidates you are after
A good job title can make it easier for candidates to find your job. A great job title can increase the number of qualified candidates you receive and can help job seekers determine if they are the right fit for the job. If you want to learn more on how to optimize your job titles for search, follow our tips for SEO-friendly job titles.
Here are sample job titles from job description templates that our clients are using right now:
- Front Desk Agent
- Sales Associate
- And more!
The job type is the categorization of the job by the hours per week. Many job descriptions and job description templates or guides fail to include this piece. This, however, can help further filter candidates.
The two major categories are full-time and part-time. Within these categories, there sub-categories which can help describe the time commitment further.
Here are some of the most commonly-used sub-categories to make your job description more accurate:
You can use these sub-categories by themselves, but it can be even better sometimes when they are combined with one of the main categories. This can give job seekers the most complete picture of the prospective job. For example, you might have a part-time contract position.
Company and Culture Description
Every job description should start with a company and culture overview. The company and culture overview section is essentially an elevator pitch describing what your company does. It should also include a little about the team and environment the new hire would be working in.
This section is your opportunity to sell yourself and stand out. Unlike other sections like responsibilities and qualifications, which can be more detail-oriented and rigid, this section is the perfect place to add personality.
Here are some questions you might want to answer when writing this section:
- What does your company do?
- Why should job seekers want to work for your company?
- What is your company passionate about?
Take a look at CareerPlug’s company and culture description as an example to help you write your own overview:
CareerPlug provides innovative recruiting and HR software for over 10,000 growing companies. Our applicant tracking and paperless onboarding software helps companies make better hires to have the right people in place to build a successful business.
You can feel something special when you walk into our office located in the heart of Austin, TX. You can hear our team collaborating with our clients and one another, see our goals and commitments up on the walls next to our core values, and feel the energy and creativity at our innovation meetings where every team member is contributing their ideas. We believe that people are the heart of our business and are committed to building one of the best places to work in Austin. To us, that means putting care and purpose into our hiring process, providing meaningful development and training opportunities for our team members, and living our core values every day.
Job Position Description
After you write your company and culture description, the next step is to write your job position description. This section should be a brief, broad overview of the position you are offering. You should also include behaviors or traits you would want in an ideal candidate.
While the company and culture overview worked to sell candidates on why they should work for your company, this section offers an opportunity to sell candidates on why they should apply for this job.
Here some questions you should consider answering when writing this section:
- Who/what team will this person work with?
- What behaviors or traits does the ideal candidate possess?
- What objectives will this person work toward? (again, think high-level)
- How will this position support the company goals?
Here is a sample of a job position description taken from a CareerPlug job post:
The Client Support Specialist is a core member of CareerPlug’s tight-knit and highly productive Client Support team, working directly with our Client Support & Success Managers. Our team is growing as rapidly as our client base and we are currently looking for top talent to join our team. The ideal candidate has a background in customer support and a passion for building relationships. Experience working in a fast-paced small team in a software or startup environment is preferred.
Now that you have completed the company and job position overviews, it’s time to get into the details, job responsibilities. When writing job responsibilities, focus on including as many details as possible.
There are many different approaches to write job responsibilities, but all job responsibilities incorporate the following tips:
- Use action words – words like provide, work with, prepare, assist — all help candidates get a sense of what they will be doing on a day-to-day
- Be detailed but not rigid – unless a certain software or tool is absolutely necessary to use to complete a task, focus on telling candidates what they will be doing not how they will be doing it
- Make sure expectations are clear – consider including how often a task will be performed or what percentage of time employees should spend on tasks
- Include company standards – ensure the candidates you seek will be compliant with brand standards by including responsibilities that maintain the integrity of your product or service
- Add skills when needed – if your job is highly technical, add phrases such as “use analytical skills” or “use critical thinking skills”
As mentioned earlier, there are multiple ways to organize job responsibilities. Some of the most common ways are:
- Creating a list – simply listing out your responsibilities
- Grouping similar tasks by responsibilities or essential functions – write an overview of the responsibility or essential function and then bullet tasks under each
- Create job-specific competencies – have a title and description of a competency and list tasks, outcomes, and measurable behaviors that can show success
At CareerPlug, we use a combination of the last two to create our job responsibilities. We list specific responsibilities, noting tasks employees will complete, and keys to success.
When writing the qualifications for a job, remember that they need to be clear and precise, similar to job requirements.
Qualifications can fall into two different categories: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative qualifications include degrees, years of experience, industry knowledge, and the ability to perform certain tasks. Qualitative qualifications, which can be just as important, include skills such as teamwork, time management, being friendly, or being optimistic.
As you decide which competencies and skills are necessary for your job, consider splitting them into two categories:
- Minimum qualifications – what is the degree, experience, or ability to perform a job needed at minimum
- Preferred qualifications – these are qualifications are skills and competencies that you would like to see in an ideal candidate, such as experience in a SaaS company
Once you decide on your qualifications, try to offer alternate qualifications if possible. For instance, let’s say you are hiring for a General Manager at franchise and you would like 10 years of experience managing in your industry. You might be willing to take on someone who has managed 15 years in another industry because they may not have the industry knowledge but they do have the management skills you require.
As you wrap up your job description, make sure you don’t just stop at the qualifications. If you really want to attract the most qualified candidates, you will need to do some extra selling and tell them why they should work for you. The best way to do this is to list the benefits and/or perks!
If your job is similar to those offered by your competitors, the benefits/perks you offer may swing a candidate in your direction. Also, your benefits may even generate more applicants for your company.
Here are some benefits you might want to include if your company offers them:
- Health insurance
- 401K Matching
- Vacation rules – list this if you think your paid time off benefits are similar to or better than your competition
- Social events
- Free swag
- Free lunches
- Casual dress code
- Sponsored education
One Final Note on Job Descriptions
Finally, before you send out your job posting to the world, make sure to follow these tips:
- Check for grammar or spelling errors – your job posting reflects your company. Avoid errors that could have a negative impact on how candidates perceive your company
- Send your job description to someone familiar with the job – have the hiring manager read over the description along with employees who perform a similar role. This will help to ensure your job description is accurate, concise, and clear
- Make sure your job description is formatted well – without headers outlining each section, it can be difficult for candidates to follow along with your job post
- Monitor your jobs after they are posted – maybe you are hiring in a new year and re-using an old job post or the job responsibilities have changed for this role. Keep track of your jobs and update as necessary
Also, remember that candidates are customers. If your applicants are having a poor experience with your hiring process, research shows that they are less likely to purchase your product or service. They are also more likely to tell others not to apply.
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