How to write an effective job description

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How to write an effective job description that will get you more applications.

Finding and attracting the right people at all levels of an organisation in what is an increasingly competitive job market is vital and this is only expected to intensify as the economy recovers fully. Getting the job description right is therefore essential but not without its challenges, not least in the time required to do so among competing priorities.

There are a number of key areas a good “Job Description” should cover, and when writing one  it is important to be specific and honest as this will pay dividends in the long run.

Job Title & Summary: Develop a job title for the position you’re looking to fill — the title and level (assistant, senior, lead, etc.) should accurately reflect the work that the employee will perform and conveys the culture of the organisation. Try to write the job description using a writing style that matches your company’s ethos as it will appeal more to the type of people you are looking for.

Key Responsibilities: List all of the essential functions of the position at hand. Typically, this includes between five and ten responsibilities. Each responsibility should begin with a present-tense, action verb, e.g. “research social media trends”. This list should help applicants to gain an idea of what a typical day in the role might be like so be as accurate as possible about what percentage of the employee’s time will be spent fulfilling each task.  Write these out using bullet points instead of writing block text, it makes it much easier to read and will keep the reader’s attention for longer.

Department & Supervisor: Include details of who the person would report to and where that person falls within the company’s structure.

Skills & Qualifications: List all qualifications that are mandatory, along with any that are preferred. This should include skills, technical or language for example; years of experience; qualifications; licenses and education level if appropriate.  Again use bullet points for this section to make it easier to read, this will keep the reader’s attention better.

Company Overview: Candidates find it helpful to have a description of the company which gives information about the company’s mission and goals at hand, in addition to what they can find themselves on the company’s website or from its social media presence if any. Details of the company’s presence, number of employees, products sold and HQ location can also be useful in presenting your organisation well.

Location: Include details on where the position is located. If travel is necessary, note what percentage of time the employee will spend travelling and where he or she will be travelling to.

Type of Employment: Be very clear about whether the position is full-time or part-time, temporary, permanent, seasonal or contract.

Salary Range & Benefits: Include a salary range and any benefits such as bonuses, company car schemes, home-working, gym memberships, travel costs, health insurance, pension, team building outings etc etc.  The more attractive you can make this section look the better.

Last but not least do not forget to include the vital contact details for more information and details of how to apply.

This covers written job descriptions however as we move in to a more social media driven era then you should consider adding photos of the workplace and team so people can see what the workplace is like and who the team members are.

Job vacancy videos are also something that companies are using more and more nowadays, these videos are an excellent way to show people what it is like to work for your company, getting your company brand across to the viewers.  If the hiring manager is making the video then people can see what the manager is like first hand before even meeting him or her. These are all key things a job seeker wants to know and these videos get the message across before any interviews. Keep an eye out for a feature I will do on this soon as I believe they will be the standard in the not so distant future.

Proper Jobs is an interactive job board, a place for employers to find new staff members across the South & South West of England and South Wales.

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