How to Write a Strong Job Description

Well-written job descriptions play a vital role in attracting qualified candidates to your company. Whether you're advertising online or placing a traditional newspaper ad, a job description is the first step in hiring a new employee. Keep reading to learn how to write a strong job description that's both concise and informative.

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Writing a Job Description

Quality employers want to attract highly qualified applicants to their company. But how can you grab the attention of an applicant who’s in demand? The key is knowing what information to include in a strong job description – and what information you should probably leave out.

Information to Include

Start with the basics of a job description. No matter what type of position you are advertising, the job description should include the following information:

  • Overview of the job: Provide a general description of the job’s day-to-day and long-term responsibilities. How does it connect to the rest of the company? Who would a potential employee report to once they’re hired?
  • A brief description of your company: Even if you're a nationally known brand, including a sentence or two about what your company does and why someone would want to work for you is a good way to attract attention to your job description.
  • Description of the required hours: You should obviously include whether it's a part-time or full-time position, but it's also important to list any specific requirements in regards to working nights, evenings, or weekends.
  • Duties and responsibilities: Listing the primary tasks associated with the position helps ensure that applicants don't apply unless they're interested in this specific type of work. Be sure to list any expectations you have for the job here; you don’t want an employee later to balk about an expected task not being in their job description.
  • Required qualifications and experience: Be as specific as possible to avoid receiving applications from unqualified applicants. If the job requires a master’s degree or several years of experience, indicate as much.
  • Desired skills: List what qualities you’d prefer in the hiring process, such as knowing a second language or willingness to travel, but aren’t actual qualifications.
  • Compensation package: You don't necessarily need to provide an exact salary for the position, but a range of possible compensation may be a good idea when you’re trying to attract the right person. Consider highlighting health insurance, retirement, or other benefits your company offers, such as the option to work from home.
  • How to apply: This might include filling out an online application or emailing a specific company representative a resume. Include a deadline for applications if necessary.

What Not to Include in a Job Description

The items to avoid in a job description can be as important as the items you do include. Clear wording can help you avoid early every pitfall in a job description. However, try not to include the following elements:

  • Unclear job title: Avoid vague, trendy, or clever titles in favor of a title that clearly describes the position. If you're looking for a customer service representative, don't list the job title as “client satisfaction officer.” Make it easy for a potential employee to decide if he or she is interested.
  • Out-of-date information: It’s tempting to copy and paste an old job description from a previous hiring process if the job hasn’t changed too much. But make sure that all information, including direct reports, email addresses, dates, and addresses are updated. A new recruit may not be impressed if your description has several errors.
  • Discriminatory language: Don’t specify that you’d prefer (or wouldn’t prefer) people of a certain gender, sexual orientation, race, religious affiliation, marital status, or age. Not only is it against the law to discriminate against individuals in protected classes, you may miss out on wonderful candidates.
  • Workplace jargon: Avoid corporate buzzwords in your job description and focus on what they really mean. Instead of asking for a “team player,” which is vague, consider saying “a candidate who enjoys collaborating others” or “a team member who contributes their own ideas toward a group project.”
  • Negative comments: Don’t list negative attributes of a possible hire (i.e. “We want someone who won’t be on the phone all day” or “Don’t apply if you can’t handle working nights.”)
  • Offers you can’t follow up on: Offering to pay for extra college credits may attract your desired candidate, but if you can’t actually make good on the offer, don’t include it.
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Sample Job Descriptions

Sometimes it’s easier to write a job description when you’ve seen samples that work. Here are some examples of both printed and online job descriptions that may help you format your own.

Printed Job Descriptions

Before the popularity of the internet, the only way you’d find a job description used to be in the printed newspaper. It needed to be both short enough to fit, and contain enough information for potential applicants.

If you're writing a short job description for a newspaper or a publication with limited space, use this sample job description for an administrative assistant as a formatting guide:

Small, family-owned catering company seeks a full-time administrative assistant to work Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Duties will include answering phones, preparing payroll, processing invoices, managing inventory, and monitoring the work of two part-time student employees. Applicants must have at least five years of office management experience. Competitive compensation package includes health insurance, 401(k), and paid time off. Please send resume and cover letter to ajackson67@bakingmemories.com. Applications will be accepted until April 5.

Online Job Descriptions

The majority of jobs in the 21st Century are posted online to reach the most qualified applicants available. If you are publishing a job description online, space will be less of a consideration. Here, you can use bullets to highlight key points, as shown in this sample job description for a marketing manager:

Do you have an eye for fashion and experience differentiating a brand through creative copywriting? If so, let's talk!

Mia & Emma is a rapidly growing women's apparel company specializing in affordable, plus size clothing for women ages 25-40. We're seeking a full-time marketing manager for our Sacramento office.

Duties will include:

  • Creating media plans, marketing proposals, and related promotional materials
  • Overseeing web development and site updates
  • Developing a social media strategy to promote brand identity
  • Working with members of the media to ensure optimum exposure and value for product placements
  • Planning special events, including fall and spring fashion shows
  • Hiring and overseeing freelancers and contractors on an as needed basis

Candidates must have:

  • Bachelor's degree in marketing, business, communications, or a related field
  • Five years of professional work experience in a corporate or agency environment
  • Experience driving customer acquisition through lead generation programs
  • Familiarity with marketing automation tools (HubSpot preferred)
  • Strong project management, organizational, and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks and meet stringent deadlines
  • Availability for occasional travel

Compensation is commensurate with experience but includes a full benefits package and the option for partial telecommuting. Apply online at miaemma.com by June 7.

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Revise and Edit

Revising and editing is a vital part of the writing process, even when you're preparing a job description. The more efficient your writing, the more effective your business communication will be. Seeking feedback from people who are familiar with the requirements of the position can help ensure that your job description will succeed in attracting top talent to your company.

Finding the Right Fit

Filling a job can be stressful for both the employer and the applicant. Everyone wants to make sure that the job is the right fit for all parties involved. After you’ve found some high-quality candidates, check out an article on potential interview weaknesses to look out for when selecting the perfect new employee. And after they’re hired, keep the strong communication going with these solutions to poor communication in the workplace.