How to write the perfect job description

Writing the perfect job description

It’s the foundation of the recruitment process, so spending time on a job description at the outset and getting it right will pay dividends in the long term, regardless of whether you are using internal recruiters or outsourcing to a recruitment consultancy.

It may seem like a relatively simple exercise, but there’s more to preparing the job description for a vacant position than initially meets the eye. It’s also vital to get it spot on and avoid ambiguities so that candidates get a clear picture of what’s involved in the role they are applying for.

So here are some job description essentials:

Keep it up to date

“One of the most important aspects of drafting an accurate job description is to ensure that it’s up to date,” says recruitment expert and director at Recruiter Hub Judith Armatage. It’s no good taking the last version, dusting it off and giving it to a recruiter as the job will have developed over time.”


Invite input

Get a few people familiar with the job to input into the new job description. Although they may all have a slightly different view, collectively this will provide a more rounded and accurate job description. “Ideally this process will involve the direct manager, the present incumbent (providing they are still around), close colleagues and HR,” says Armatage.


Use a recognisable job title

“Although it may well be the case that two jobs are never the same, over-complicating a job title will simply confuse candidates as they aren’t as close to the detail as the recruiter. So keep it simple, familiar and easy to understand. It should be easily recognisable and relevant to the role and sector,” says Armatage.


Don’t forget the location

When focusing on getting the individual characteristics of the job right, it can be easy to omit the location where the role will be based. However, this is a vital part of the job description for obvious reasons. “If in a large city use an area or postcode, otherwise the name of the town or area will normally suffice,” advises Armatage.


Profile the employer

Every job title should ideally give candidates insight into their potential employer. “This should include an overview of the employer’s market, corporate goals and ambitions for the future, plus what the company is like to work for its culture,” says Armatage.


Outline the prospects

Although few job descriptions actually do this, stressing the opportunities career and skill development can have a big influence over jobseekers. “Include information about the promotional prospects and training opportunities that exist within the company,” recommends Armatage.


Define the position

Give a clear description of the role and its significance within the company. “Define what the overall purpose is, why is it needed and how it contributes to the overall success of the organisation,” says Armatage.

Also, explain briefly how much authority the role commands within the organisation, including details of line manager and the number of people the job is responsible for. Don’t worry about putting people off, the ideal candidate needs to be comfortable with this.


Describe specific objectives and duties

A job title and the significance of a role to the employer may be enticing, but it’s also important to spell out key responsibilities. “Be specific about what the job holder be responsible for doing on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis,” says Armatage. “Also define the regular activities associated with the role.”


Reveal salary and benefits

Jobseekers coming across a job description that doesn’t give clear salary details will always feel a twinge of disappointment because it is simply a vital part of the picture they will want to form of the role before confidently applying. “Additional benefits are also important,” says Armatage, “as these can help to offset a salary that might be on the low side for the role and sector.”


Set the right tone

Finally, think about the way the job description is worded and the impression it gives the jobseeker, making sure it reflects the brand and culture of the employer. This can really help find the candidate with the right cultural fit.

“Adopting this type of structure will keep the writer focus and give clarity to the recruiter and candidates,” concludes Armatage. “After all, while you want to attract candidates to your role, you also want to dissuade those who aren’t suitable, so keep it true to the role.”

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