Writing a Job Description: Best Practices

Writing a Job Description: Best Practices

Writing a Job Description: Best Practices

Have you ever read a job description and felt like you still have no idea what the position’s real responsibilities are?

Maybe there are generic terms like, “works well under pressure,” or “has great organizational skills.”
The truth is, those job descriptions aren’t really descriptive at all. And if you’re writing a job description like that, you’re simply misusing what should be a recruiter’s secret weapon for attracting top talent.
Great job descriptions include specific responsibilities, requirements, and objectives. They are clear, in some cases creative, and they gain attention from more candidates.

Unfortunately, actually sitting down and writing a job description is not as straightforward as it often seems.

Need help taking advantage of your secret weapon? Here are some tips for writing better job descriptions that catch the attention of A-level candidates.

Writing a Job Description: Title

The first thing a candidate will read on the job description is the title. A job title should be appealing and descriptive. However, there is a fine line between making the job title sound attractive and over-exaggerating its seniority.
If a job opening is for a senior level role, be sure to include words like “senior,” “manager,” or “director.” If the position is more junior or entry level, you can add “associate” or “specialist.”
When writing a job description, you want your Title to attract the correct level of candidate, but also sound like an exciting move forward in a candidate’s career.

Writing a Job Description: Company Information

This is your chance to dive into what makes your company so great and different. Include any selling points that truly set your company apart. This can include the rate your company is growing, any awards or press clippings, cutting edge technology you may be creating or using, or even things like office location or perks.
Be sure to not make this portion too lengthy — remember, it’s not marketing collateral — however, don’t be too modest either.

Writing a Job Description: Responsibilities

Be specific! In an earlier post, one of my colleagues discussed the significance of creating specific job descriptions rather than broad ones. A broad description of responsibilities may dissuade qualified candidates from applying since they do not understand what the role requires.
Include day-to-day tasks as well as long-term strategic objectives. Try not to include obvious or mundane tasks if they are not important or do not highlight the importance of the role.

Writing a Job Description: Qualifications

Try not to go overboard here. This is where you list the necessary minimum qualifications of the position. Too many qualifications might shrink the candidate pool, while too few qualifications can open the door to unqualified candidates that think they fit the job profile.
I have a previous blog post that gets into details about how to avoid buzzwords and focus on quantifiable skills when writing a job description.

A best practice to keep in mind when you begin writing a job description is to save all descriptions in a shared drive.

This way your talent team can build a library of job descriptions to pull from to use for similar positions rather than writing a completely new job description every time from scratch. Perhaps a little tweaking will be necessary, but this will cut down on time when new positions open up.
Providing a great, detailed job description can set you apart from other companies. Candidates will realize exactly what the job entails and also appreciate the fact that your company has put time and effort into writing a descriptive, non-generic job description.
What other tips can you share to help recruiters and hiring managers write the best job descriptions possible?

Katy Smigowski
Katy Smigowski
Recruiting Lead - Software

Katy Smigowski is the Recruiting Lead-Software at Fitbit, where she is directly managing sourcing team, recruiting process and recruiting strategy dedicated to driving software hiring in our Boston office. Prior to Fitbit, she was a Talent Specialist at OpenView responsible for recruiting initiatives for both the firm and its portfolio companies.
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