The importance of a well-written job description should not be underestimated. These documents can not only make your recruitment process more efficient and attract the best candidates but they can also be useful throughout your employees’ careers at your company.
Before we look at just how important job descriptions are and how they can be used, here are the key areas that should be included:
- Job Title: First up, you need to come up with a job title that will catch the eye of relevant candidates, signal the seniority of the role, and is industry-appropriate.
- State the purpose of the role: A very brief statement that helps candidates visualise how the role contributes to the business as a whole. This should only be a couple of sentences long.
- Responsibilities/Duties: An overview of what the role entails, indicating how they contribute to business objectives.
- Skills and qualifications: Sometimes split into ‘required’ and ‘desired’.
- Background: In order to give candidates a good idea of whether or not they might be a good cultural fit, a brief overview of the business is important.
- Working environment: It’s important to state where and when the employee would be required to work and whether there are any flexible working perks.
- Salary: Usually stated as a range that is considered competitive for the role.
When creating a job description, it’s really important that you get simple things like spelling and grammar correct. Just as mistakes on applications are likely to make you question a candidate’s attention to detail, a poorly written job description could cause candidates to question your professionalism. Make sure that the candidate’s first impression of your business is a good one. Job seekers are likely to be reading through lots of job descriptions every day and will be able to spot one that has been thoughtfully put together.
Attract the most relevant candidates
A well-written job description will make your onboarding process much more efficient. Potential employees will be able to see quickly if the position is a good fit for them in terms of skills and in terms of company culture. This will mean that you will spend less time looking through applications from candidates who don’t have the qualifications or experience you’re looking for.
The best candidates are likely to be just as picky as you are when it comes to finding the right fit, so make sure they don’t pass over your job description because there’s information missing or it’s been poorly written. Ultimately, making a hiring mistake can be costly for a business, so it’s important to try and get it right the first time.
Establish your expectations
It should be clear from your job description what your expectations are from the role. This means that your chosen candidate will be able to settle into their new role quickly, clear in their own mind what their job entails and where they fit into the business as a whole. Any uncertainty can have a negative impact on confidence and efficiency.
This set of expectations can then be used as a benchmark for evaluating employee performance. Employees can set themselves goals for development and push themselves towards a promotion as they start to exceed the expectations of the role. Employers can similarly use the job description to set targets for the employee, clearly establishing what the next step in their career would look like.
Keep everyone accountable
Well-written job descriptions can be used to keep employees on track when it comes to performance reviews or personal development plans. Employers can use these documents to address poor performance in an area required for their role. If these descriptions are left vague, this becomes much more difficult to do.
It helps to keep employers accountable too, ensuring that tasks and responsibilities remain reasonable under the job description. Having a complete set of up to date job descriptions for your teams will also help you quickly identify gaps in skills.
It is crucial that your employees understand the requirements of their job inside and out. If they don’t have a clear idea of this and the potential routes of progression, you risk them feeling lost or directionless which can stifle productivity.
A well-written job description can provide that clarity and give your staff a confidence boost, which, in turn, can motivate them to higher levels of productivity. Job descriptions can be used to help provide a valuable framework and direction for an employee which is key in keeping them happy and reducing staff turnover.
The importance of maintaining your job descriptions
Once you’ve hired for the role, don’t forget about the job description. It’s a good idea to keep these documents up to date for a number of reasons. As your employees evolve, so should their job descriptions. When employees accept a promotion, for example, make sure you document any additional responsibilities or changes to their role with an updated job description. This clarity is helpful for both you and your employee and while there is no legal requirement to provide job descriptions, they can be useful if any issues arise.
It is good practice to re-assess job descriptions regularly. Depending on your industry, this could be an annual process to ensure that requirements are up to date and cover any industry developments and trends. It’s important that line managers discuss any updates or changes with employees before they are made so that any concerns can be addressed and the new description is agreed by both parties.
So, as well as focussing on creating well-written and compelling job descriptions for new staff, it might be time to dig out the job descriptions for your current staff and discuss how they could be updated to reflect your current workforce.