Writing the Job Description: Tips & Pitfalls

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Who’s writing your job descriptions?

Is it a member of HR who is potentially unaware of the full details, or even an assistant who is removed from the hiring process?

Job descriptions can be a tricky piece of writing, especially in an oversaturated market of job boards and job search tools.

As the job market is more candidate-driven than ever before, it has become particularly important to have a job description that will entice and engage top talent.

Top talent is just that: the most qualified, sought after candidates, and thus more likely to have their choice of where they want to go next. The challenge becomes being the best possible choice for this talent, based not only on being a good fit for their skill set but creating a positive company brand of which they’d want to take part.

It is critical to make a clear statement regarding what is attractive about your organization and the benefits of working there versus the next company.

To ensure your job description stands out among the rest, practice these tips and beware of pitfalls:

Be Specific
Ensure that the description lays out precisely what the job will entail. Don’t fluff it up with fancy jargon or heightened responsibilities; instead, give the candidate a clear picture of what it would be like to have the job.

Include a job title that accurately reflects the type of work that will be performed as well as the level of employment (such as analyst, specialist, associate).

Address Experience
To avoid unqualified applicants, be forthright about the need for experience in the job description. This will hone in on the type of candidates you seek. Set minimum job requirements, such as the knowledge, skills and capabilities necessary to do the job.

  • Include the preferred educational background and whether this can be substituted by experience.

Have a Goal in Mind
With more Millennials in the workforce, candidates want to be sure their work will be necessary and appreciated. Mentioning 6-month to 1 year goals you would like the candidate to have accomplished directly in the job description can paint a clear picture of the expectations of the employer up front.

For instance, if you are hiring a Marketing Manager with the intent to build up your employer brand, mention this in the job description as an overall forecasted goal.

  • Clarify the exact nature of the job by stating the what, why and how of the job (what will I be doing, why will I be doing it, how will I be accomplishing it).

Pair with Brand
An effective job description is one facet of a cohesive employer brand. Ensure that the job description is clean and free of errors to prove that the company is reputable. Include a brief company overview that includes the overall mission and goals.

Make sure that the description links back to a clean, professional website and regularly updated social media tools. Candidates will be looking at all of these pieces when considering whether to apply.


Be Seen
Keywords are a good way to be recognized among thousands of job board submissions. A CareerBuilder representative recommends including various titles in the job description that encompass the overall goal.

For instance, if you are looking for a Business Development Officer, also include “sales,” “relationship building,” and “selling.” The more keywords, the better chance of being searched (and found).

Remember the Basics
In addition to a descriptive summary, remember the importance of basic, but essential, details:

  • Note all essential functions that the jobholder will perform.
  • Include details on the candidate’s direct report, where they will be located, and which department they will be in
  • Note whether the position is full or part-time
  • Ensure that the job description includes a summary, key responsibilities, and the skills necessary to accomplish the job
  • Let the candidate know who they can contact or where they can send their resume
  • Be specific and direct, using positive language - avoid phrases like “sometimes”
  • Remember it's not about you - the underlying point is to be attractive to talent and answer to their wants and needs as an employer
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