Here’s How You Write a Succinct yet Comprehensive Job Description

Without a great job description, you won’t even attract great candidates

Andy Chan
Andy Chan
Jan 24, 2020 · 8 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Charles on Unsplash

In the war for talent, there is no room for error — every company is trying to one-up the other company with better compensation packages and organizational cultures. Hiring today has also evolved into a complex weave of algorithm-aided human effort. In the era of the employee experience, candidates are changing their mindsets, which leaves companies going through hasty evolutions just to capture these talents.

However, the fundamentals for hiring are still the same.

Yet, there are companies still failing with their fundamentals. Many candidates often have gripes with companies for their unclear job descriptions and thus, it is one of the biggest requests by employees — 53% of job hunters want them to clearly explain expectations in the job descriptions.

Hiring managers — a good 73% of them — would tell you that they provide clear job descriptions. Unfortunately, only 36% of candidates agree.

The job description is significant: it communicates expectations, job responsibilities and other details of the compensation package. Moreover, it’s also where the employee experience first begins and where companies can look at to guide new employees during onboarding.

When a candidate is looking for a job and scrolling through job advertisement platforms, the company must ensure that their job descriptions can stand out amongst the dozens of descriptions from other companies.

Crafting great job descriptions also helps the company as well: employees know exactly what they need to do in the company, which can help increase their productivity. In this guide, we go into detail on how companies can craft and design great job description, meet the expectations of both the company and the candidates, and create a compelling job experience right from the start.

A job description looks simple. After all, it’s only about the job and it’s typically less than 1000 words — it’s about making the 1000 words count. The job description is where companies have the first opportunity to make a great impression on new candidates.

The skeleton of a job description is standard:

Some job advertisement platforms allow companies to add other things that traditional job descriptions do not have. For instance, they might include pictures of the office or talk about the organizational culture. Regardless of the variation, there are five rules of thumb:

With these five rules in mind, let’s move on to the five-part framework.

Company Mission

Let’s face it: most company mission statements are full of yogababble and fluff. If you were to hire the best writer to craft and paint a picture of a perfect workplace, you’ll wind up betraying expectations. For employees, that’s a deal-breaker during their first three months, as Jobvite estimates that at least 45% of employees leave due to that.

However, the company mission is where you can create an emotional connection with the candidate. It’s still important to highlight the company’s and future team’s ambitions. The key is to stay authentic: employees are more likely to stick around when companies show the reality and are being genuine.

Role

Startups often use an elevator pitch to describe why their work is exciting to an investor in thirty seconds — this is the same. Think of the role as an advertisement: in a single paragraph, you can share a handful of key objectives, convey information, and help candidates visualize their job.

Ultimately, you want to build excitement for the opportunity. Rather than a mundane “to-do” list (which you’ll get into later), you want to focus on why this employee needs to exist in the company. You need to help the candidate see how they fit into the picture and the impact they can have throughout the company.

Responsibilities

This where you describe the day-to-day job duties in the role. It’s specific and it can be highly technical. It’s perfectly okay to make it long: candidates are more likely to be attracted if there are a lot of details. That way, the candidates can roughly envision how they will be like during their tenure.

Job responsibilities are unique to each role but generally, there is always a combination of a few essential functions:

The key is to think in hours and minutes: how much time will the employee spend on a certain task. If a developer will spend little of their time designing user interfaces, then it’s probably not in the job descriptions.

Depending on the context, some jobs may even require budgeting and reporting. While it is important to stuff as many details as you can into the job description, you must also remain authentic and truthful. Show the reality: are they going to stay long hours? Will they occasionally come back during weekends? Rather than have the candidates get a rude shock, communicate the expectations first.

Job Qualifications

Typically academic, job qualifications are used to describe a set of requirements for the job. For instance, education, experience, skills, licenses, and other certifications. Some physical jobs also include physical requirements and nonacceptable medical conditions. For this guide, we’ll assume that it’s a deskbound job.

There are two types of qualifications:

It’s important to always remain flexible unless it’s a necessitated or legally required qualification. There are times where candidates demonstrate considerable skill: more than one who studied in that field. Some candidates may also have valuable experience that can benefit the company in different ways.

Hence, hiring managers have to think from different angles, rather than treat the job requirements like a commandment. For companies that rely on algorithmic screening, it is important to have a human look through the pile that did not ‘make it’, so as to discover the candidates that have different talents.

Compensation

Is there allowance provided for a remote working space? Is the job contract-based? How much is the remuneration? Does the medical insurance cover dependencies? A compensation package is typically detailed at the end of the job description.

Companies need to be truthful here —some of their salary details are behind words like “competitive”, which gives the candidates no clue since they do not know where the company gets their market rates from. Hence, rather than hide the information, it is best to simply give it to the candidate upfront, or communicate after during the first round of interviews.

Image for post
Image for post
Typical compensation package with varying amounts.

If there are things that can be negotiable, ensure that it is also detailed upfront.

Planning and owning the hiring process is a lot of work. Every single step involves a lot of envision and visualizing, even for something as basic as the job description. In the era of the employee experience, organizations have to look at their company philosophy so as to redesign the way they hire, onboard, and manage employees.

For instance, companies like Gallup and IBM are already developing their company philosophy that they apply within the office.

In hiring, the job description is the first contact with the employee. Without crafting and designing something that stands out above the dozens of other job descriptions, the whole employee experience is ruined. A job description that is vague and poor in communicating expectations is also a problem. When employees start working longer at the company, they might find that they are working more than what the job stated, which negatively impacts the employee experience.

The war for talent is escalating with the advent of technology, competitive job market, and the general economic situation. Without making the right first step, companies will wind up losing this war spectacularly.

Like this article? We deliver even more value on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday every week on our H+B Digest.

The Human Business

We’re all about the humans in the business.

Andy Chan

Written by

Andy Chan

I like designing and building things that make sense, small to big | Product Design | Front-end Developer

The Human Business

A leadership publication that focuses on human-first management philosophies.

Andy Chan

Written by

Andy Chan

I like designing and building things that make sense, small to big | Product Design | Front-end Developer

The Human Business

A leadership publication that focuses on human-first management philosophies.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store