Checklist for Creating Effective Job Descriptions

Dave Anderson
Dave Anderson  |  October 19, 2018

Too many companies overlook the importance of the job description when hiring. It’s easy to create a summary that is incomplete or lacks thought when you know plenty of people will still end up applying.

But the goal isn’t to get just anyone to apply. You want to attract the most talented people on the market. People who have what it takes to do great work for your company.

Checklist for creating effective job descriptions

Creating an effective job description is a process. This checklist will help you form a detailed summary, while considering what type of professional will have the greatest impact on your organization.

Job title

Think of the job title as the headline for the entire job description. It’s displayed as the clickable link in job board search engines so you need to ensure it properly summarizes the position.

An ideal job title combines what the future hire will do (e.g. marketing) and their level within the company (e.g. director, marketing manager). That might sound obvious but it’s important to consider if the job title properly aligns with both the years of experience you’re seeking and the responsibilities the hire will be asked to take on.

Also, avoid the unique, non-traditional job titles that have become popular in recent years. Using terms like “developer ninja” or “sales unicorn” can not only put off serious professionals. More importantly, these terms aren’t optimized for job board search engines and may not appear to people looking for titles they actually identify with, like “web developer” or “sales manager.”

Role objectives

Highlighting the objectives the future hire will be asked to accomplish is an important component of job descriptions. Additionally, going through the process of coming up with objectives will help your organization refine the exact type of professional it needs.

Start by considering why you’re hiring for the role in the first place. What problem is your company facing that the future hire will be asked to solve? Then come up with a logical solution. List both the long-term and short-term goals that will need to be accomplished to solve the challenge at hand. Lastly, determine if there are any other activities or projects this new employee could take on after they’ve solved the immediate problem so they contribute to your organization for years to come.

Role responsibilities

After you come up with role objectives, the next step is to determine what it will take to accomplish them. List all the daily responsibilities that will need to be carried out for the immediate and long-term objectives to be met. For example, if you’re hiring a marketing director tasked with taking your brand to the top of the industry, what will they need to do to make that happen?

Many companies gloss over role responsibilities when creating their job descriptions. Getting detailed and defining a comprehensive list of tasks will attract people who have had those responsibilities in past jobs. But if this section is too vague, people who aren’t the right fit can conclude they’re qualified, resulting in a massive pool of candidates to screen.

Necessary experience

Coming up with the right skills and experience is one of the most important exercises when building a job description. You need to get this right so you succeed in attracting the right candidates, while deterring people who are under or overqualified for the role.

Using the role responsibilities you previously defined, determine what background a person will need to accomplish them. First, come up with all the skills that will be required to carry out the tasks you outlined. You’ll of course need to figure out the necessary knowledge and abilities but don’t forget the soft skills, or personality qualities. In all likelihood, you’ll attract plenty of candidates who are capable of doing the job but the person with the right attitude will thrive in the position.

Determining the ideal experience also requires a thoughtful approach. As we mentioned earlier, experience should be appropriate for the job title and the role’s level within your organization. You don’t want to hire someone who is less experienced than the people below them on the org chart. You also don’t want to overstate experience, causing an otherwise talented professional to not apply because the job description tells them they’re not seasoned enough for the job.

Company description

Every job description should include a brief description of what your company does and the types of customers it serves. This is especially important if your brand isn’t well known or operates in an obscure industry. This section also gives you the opportunity to mention your company’s values and culture so job seekers get a sense for what their workdays might be like.

Many job seekers blast their resume off to any company that is hiring for a job they’re remotely qualified for. But not enough people consider if they’re really interested in the company’s mission and the culture it offers. A short company description goes a long way in connecting you with the right people.

Employee benefits and perks

In today’s competitive hiring landscape, talented professionals want more than just a paycheck. They also want favorable benefits and perks. Some candidates will even accept a lower paying job, if it comes with something extra they truly value.

Your job descriptions should list all the standard benefits your company offers (e.g. health insurance, PTO, stock options), in addition to any unique perks (e.g. flexible work schedules, gym memberships, a stocked kitchen).

Again, you want to attract the best candidates available and including benefits and perks shows that your company values its employees and rewards hard work.

Pay range

Lastly, it’s important to provide insight into how much the role pays. If the job has a fixed rate or salary, it makes sense to state exactly what it is on the job description. If you’re willing to negotiate, then give the salary range you have in mind.

You never want to invest time interviewing someone who believes they should be paid more than what you’re going to offer. Put the compensation question to rest early so you can focus on candidates who are likely to say “yes” if they’re offered the job.

Job descriptions connect you with future employees

Crafting an effective job description kickstarts a successful hiring process. Get off on the right foot and your company will soon have a great new employee.

Learn more about effective hiring methods with out guide on everything recruiting.

Dave Anderson
Author

Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson is the Content Marketing Manager for Recruiterbox. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he enjoys snowboarding, hiking, and all things outdoors.