What is a Job Description?
Learn about what a job description is, its uses, advantages, disadvantages, and objectives here. Also, learn how to write an effective JD with a list of online job description generators.
A job description (JD) outlines the roles, responsibilities, and skills required to perform a specific job. It is used to inform the applicants about the job duties during recruitment and to evaluate an employee’s performance during the performance management process.
A job description comes in handy for the employees as it gives clear and concise ideas that can be used as a guide for job performance.
On top of that, a JD can also be used to determine salary levels, job titles and pay grades, career planning, and to establish legal requirements for compliance purposes.
It is thus quite imperative for HR professionals or hiring managers to create JDs so that they can accurately reflect the employees’ current job duties and responsibilities.
Objectives of Job Descriptions
A job description brings many effective uses to an organization. Here are some key objectives:
- To provide the employee with the expectations that are required of them in the role
- To provide enough detail to help the candidate assess if they are suitable for the position
- To support the recruitment team during the selection process
- To help formulate questions for the interview process
- To allow the prospective employee to determine their role or standing within the structure of the organization
- To assist in forming a legally binding contract of employment
- To help set goals and target for the employee upon joining
- To aid in the evaluation of the employee’s job performance
- To help formulate training and development plans
Why should HR leaders care about job descriptions?
JDs are an indispensable part of recruitment and employee performance. A crystal-clear job description helps the HR to
- Define the job requirements and find the right pool of candidates: Chalking out a job description gives a clear picture to the candidates and only the ones who feel adept with the requirements, apply for the position.
This attracts the right pool of candidates for the job role and the recruiter doesn’t need to spend hours of time shuffling through the resumes of hundreds of candidates.
- Recruit the right candidates: A job description entails all the pointers that an employer is looking for in a candidate. Having a well-outlined job description can save the time of the recruiter and serve as a checklist to tick the boxes if the applicant has the required skills.
This helps in choosing the best candidate for the job, eliminating the chance of mishiring.
- Execute performance evaluations and training and development: A job description not only helps in recruitment but can also be useful for evaluating a candidate’s performance.
Based on the job description, an HR professional can decide if the employee is satisfying the company’s needs or needs training and development for better performance.
You as an employer can also avoid any unforeseeable legal complication that any employee claims down the line if you have an up-to-date JD.
What Is the Typical Structure of a Job Description?
A job description should have a simple and accurate layout that clearly defines the needs of the role. The actual structure of a job description may vary across job roles and organizations, a well-rounded JD should be loosely structured like this:
- Job Title
- Reports to
- Job Purpose (a brief line or two)
- Responsibilities/duties (detailed)
- Essential and desirable criteria
- Company/team overview
- Application information
How to Write a Job Description
Creating a job description that attracts the absolute best candidates requires a balanced mixture of conciseness and detail. Here is a step-by-step guide to craft engaging JDs:
- Focus on the Job Title
Keeping the job title may seem like the most unimportant and easy part of creating a job description, but it can affect the quality and quantity of candidates that apply for the job role.
Try to keep the job title simple and common, one that is known to all applicants. Keeping a very unique or flowery title will confuse the candidates and hence make them reluctant to apply for the job.
Do not forget to add the seniority level where required and keep it concise.
- Introduce your Company
This is the part where you can boast about your organization, highlight the best features and make your company look like the best place to work.
You can also bring up unique attributes such as a dog-friendly environment, dress-up Fridays, remote working, or free lunches. This will amp up your JD and attract more candidates.
- Describe the Role Briefly
In this section, you will want to give a few brief sentences about the role, what it will entail in general terms, and the type of person that you are looking for.
You can use some of the information about the role here as well as in later sections.
For example, you might mention that the candidate needs at least a 2:1 degree in a related subject or that they need to be proficient in using Microsoft Office.
Here you should also include pertinent facts like the salary range, working hours and days, and whether it is a part-time or a full-time job.
- Mention the Duties and Responsibilities
While it is a no-brainer to understand the responsibilities from the job title itself, you should briefly mention the major responsibilities of the role to show the candidate what is expected of them.
Plus, you should not forget to add any specific or unique responsibility that the candidate has to fulfill.
Think of a ‘day in the life’ of the candidate while jotting down the duties. While both duties and responsibilities may sound like one and the same, duties are daily tasks that a candidate has to perform to meet his daily target.
- Qualifications and Skills
You will of course want to mention the required qualifications and skills for the job role in the job description.
For instance, if you are looking for a software developer, the candidate should have an engineering degree as an essential qualification.
Apart from technical skills, soft skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and similar characteristics should also be included in the essential qualifications and skills.
Keeping the essential skills aside, there is something called desired qualifications and skills which are sometimes required in a job role.
Say you are putting up a JD for a graphic designer, you can ask for experience in ADOBE and Canva as a desired qualification. Similarly, you can put expertise in other tools and platforms for other job roles as a desired skill in the candidate.
- Talk about Package and Benefits
Although you have already mentioned the salary range in the job role section - it is important to include a section about what the successful applicant will receive as their package.
Alongside a salary, candidates will expect some form of perks and benefits to be offered.
Think about listing things like
- Holiday entitlement
- Pension details
- Subsidized meals
- Free gym membership
- Don't forget to add the link for the application
Finish the job description with simple instructions for how to apply for the role.
You should include a contact name in the recruitment department and instructions on the next steps.
You might want applicants to send a resume and cover letter to a specific email address, or to click a button to fill out an application form online. They might need to apply through the business website or speak to a recruitment agency.
Whatever method you use, it needs to be easy for the candidate to complete.
What can HR leaders do to create high-quality job descriptions?
HR professionals can integrate these few pointers to build job descriptions that attract suitable candidates:
- Include the various essential sections: Craft a well-structured JD with the company overview, job summary, and an explanation of required responsibilities, skills, and qualifications. Also, specify the job’s benefits and perks as well—it can tip the scales for curious candidates.
- Make sure the descriptions are well-written: The quality of the job description reflects directly on the company ethos. An engaging, comprehensive, and concise job description demonstrates professionalism and trustworthiness.
- Keep the target audience in mind: Use engaging and conversational language to write the job description that aligns with the company brand and also resonates with the applicants.
- Consult Project Managers about the Opening: Lack of internal communication can lead to hiring problems from the get-go. In order to avoid hiring the wrong people, you should consult your department heads and project managers about their candidate expectations.
- Provide Candidates with Competitive Job Benefits: It’s not enough to simply list all the requirements you have from a candidate and call it a day. Competitive employment benefits will effectively attract applicants to your company.
- Avoid Spelling & Formatting Errors: Lastly, you should aim to maintain your business’ professional reputation by carefully proofreading any job description you post online. While it may seem like an obvious final step in writing a compelling job description, even a single grammar mistake can drive away potential candidates.
- Be transparent: If this role entails long hours and hard work, say so. In doing that, you'll weed out people that don't fit the bill—and you won't be wasting anyone's time. And always quantify the experience level necessary.
Now some bonus tips -
- Write in a concise, direct style.
- Always use simpler words rather than complicated ones; keeping sentence structure as simple as possible. It will cut verbiage, shorten your description, and enhance understanding.
- Use descriptive action verbs in the present tense (for example: writes, operates, or performs).
- Avoid abbreviations and acronyms. Other people reading the position description may not be familiar with them. If abbreviations and acronyms are necessary, define them the first time you use them.
- Avoid gender-specific language.
- Focus on essential activities; omit trivial duties and occasional tasks.
- Avoid references to other employees’ names, instead, refer to the job title or department.
- Only include assigned duties today. Do not include potential future duties and eliminate any duties no longer required.
- Use job description generator software to simplify the process.
Why should creating high-quality job descriptions be a part of modern HR strategy?
Job descriptions aren’t just a supplementary component of the HR strategy. Modern HR strategy needs job descriptions to be effective. Complete, well-written job descriptions enable HR to build a plan that drives successful employee recruitment, engagement, and retention.
Creating a semi-informative and ordinary JD will only add to the problems of the HR professional and not solve any.
With the surfacing of SaaS tools, you can utilize job description builder software to design a compelling JD that speaks volumes to the candidates and also save your time.
Importance of Job Description
There are a multitude of advantages of a job description in organizations such as for hiring and employee performance evaluation. It is a document or information that is beneficial for both employees and employers. Here’s why:
- It is the backbone of the hiring process as it has all the important information about the skills and qualifications that should be matched while selecting the future employee of the organization.
- A good JD outlines what is expected from the employee and helps the employer define the necessary skills for the job
- A well-written JD helps to ensure that the job covers the appropriate activities, obligations, and responsibilities.
- A good JD provides clarity of the job role to the candidates.
- The job description helps in finding training and development opportunities.
- JD helps managers to manage employees and provides insight for succession planning.
- It resolves the issues when an employee refuses to do some tasks stating ‘it is not my job’. Also, avoid disputes based on who should perform which activities in the organization.
- It is a legal document and it can be used by the employee during any lawsuit against the organization.
- A well-crafted job description can help both applicants and interviewers prep for the big day. Applicants will be able to prepare for likely topics of conversation and interview teams will be equipped to ask questions that will accurately gauge the candidate’s qualifications.
- Once a candidate is hired, the job description will stand as a baseline to measure growth, reference during performance reviews, and consider future training opportunities.
Disadvantages of job descriptions
Job descriptions are useful for the company, the employee, and the applicants. But sometimes it can fall short and not fulfill its role.
For example, a job description can be rendered useless for senior managerial positions because they cannot be bound to a few pointers in the JD, they should have the freedom to be flexible and take initiatives to guide the organization in a new direction.
Another problem that arises is that many companies do not perform thorough job analysis and often leave out important details in the JD which can turn the candidate away.
And last but not least, the HR professional may not be able to keep up with the changing trends of the job role and find it hard to update the job description constantly. One solution for this particular problem is to use a job description generator for resumes which can be less daunting.
What should a job description include?
There is a list of do’s and dont’s that you should follow to build a job description that is compelling to the applicants:
- Refer to the Job Description Writing Guide
- Attend a Job Description Workshop
- Use a factual and impersonal style when writing the job description
- Base the job description on the department’s needs
- Write an accurate, concise, and complete job description
- Use complete sentences
- Keep sentence structure as simple as possible, omitting unnecessary words that do not contribute pertinent information.
- Begin each duty/task with an action verb.
- Be precise. This is critical for accurate job evaluation and analysis.
- Focus on critical activities.
- Use a logical sequence in describing duties and responsibilities (Key Responsibility first, followed by the corresponding duties)
- Use the narrative form when writing a job description.
- Base the content of the job description on the capabilities, skills, and interests of the incumbent
- Write the job description as a step-by-step guide on how to do the job.
- Include minor or occasional tasks which are not unique to a specific job.
Uses of Job Description
A job description finds uses for both the employee and the employer. Check out how the two of them take advantage of the document here:
Use of job description for employers
During the hiring process, a job description defines the role of the position and the ideal candidate to fill it. The job description helps target recruitment to reach the ideal candidates with a thorough description that makes the job sound tempting. Hiring managers can use it to weed out applicants when choosing candidates for interviews. At the interview, the points in the description can serve as the basis for questions.
In the HR department, job descriptions aid in planning and implementing training. By looking at job descriptions, HR professionals identify the key skills that employees need, and then they cover those specific topics in training sessions. The training needs might apply to specific roles, specific departments, or the entire company. Job descriptions help HR determine who needs each type of training.
The details in the job descriptions may become checkpoints on employee evaluations. Supervisors use the duties and responsibilities as a guide for determining how well the employee performs. Likewise, the job description can come in handy when employees and their supervisors create goals or development plans.
Use of job description for job-seekers
If you're looking for a new job, you'll probably spend a lot of time looking over job descriptions. The statement indicates whether a potential job is interesting and aligns with your goals, interests, skills, and preferences. It shows you what the company expects and whether you fit the qualifications for the job position you're considering. You can use that information to tailor your application materials to what the company wants and prepare for potential interview questions.
By studying the job description, you can compare the position to similar jobs to see how the responsibilities, salaries, and benefits stack up. You start to get an idea of the industry standards for the type of positions you're considering. Information in job descriptions can help you negotiate when you receive a job offer because you have supporting details showing what's common in the industry.
Best Job Description Generator Tools for Recruiters
We have seen the ups and downs of creating a job description and how important it is for an organization. With the emergence of digital technology and artificial intelligence, every human work has been made easy and automated.
Similarly, there are online job description generator tools floating around in the market and they are the future of recruitment(which is already here) that untangles the entire hassle of creating a job description and yields you a well-crafted document in minutes.
To ease your quandary, we have siloed the best JD generator tools that are available right now:
- Job Description.ai
- Pitch Me
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