The Art of Crafting Engaging Job Descriptions

The Art of Crafting Engaging Job Descriptions

Employment Advice, HR, Job Search

In general conversation the terms ‘Job Description’ and ‘Job Advertisement’ are often used interchangeably, but in real life the documents can be very different from one another. In this blog we’re using the term Job Description with the view to being attractive to high potential career seekers, but also touching on the inclusion of practical aspects of the role.

A job description is an essential part of successfully recruiting the right candidate for a role. It conveys the requirements, responsibilities and expectations encompassed in a job. If a job description isn’t engaging then it’s not very likely to entice someone to apply for the job. Alternatively, if it’s not a well-defined job description a successful employee will feel at sea within their new role. Thus, they are unlikely to perform adequately and if unsatisfied in their role top talent will look for alternative employment.

Why is a Job Description Important?

Top talent engages with job descriptions that are well-defined and provide a clear understanding of the advertised role, responsibilities, expectations and required qualifications. Having the right job description when advertising also reduces the number of unqualified candidates.  During vetting it provides a clear, fair, and universal benchmark against which to judge all applicants.

5 Purposes of a Job Description

  1. Attract suitable talent.
  2. Guide in-job training.
  3. Protect against termination.
  4. Assist with retention and job satisfaction.
  5. Assess employee performance.

A job description is important for an employee because it clearly outlines company expectations. An accurate job description can also help to reassure an applicant and incumbent that a company has integrity. This helps to foster loyalty towards the company and cohesion within a work environment.

For a company, a well-defined job description is necessary to attract an appropriately qualified applicant. And then once someone has been appointed, it provides a clear and fair way of gauging their performance. It can also help with strategically upskilling an employee. If there is a probation period, it can assist management in their decision of whether an employment offer should be extended. Additionally, a clear job description can pinpoint poor performance and assist in a termination process if deemed necessary. Alternatively, it can be used by management to motivate promotion.

What is a Job Description?

A job description is also known as a JD, a job profile, job specification or position description (job PD).  It is essentially an outline of the functional responsibilities and skill requirements associated with a role within a company. . It can also be seen as an introduction to a company and a possible invitation to join it. 

To convey the correct information, all job descriptions include 6 basic components. The tone of this information can vary according to the industry and role being described. For example, someone looking to work at an advertising agency is likely to be attracted to a lighter, humorous tone. Whereas an appropriate candidate for an accounting firm mayrespond better to a more professional tone.

6 Essential Components of a Job Description

  1. Title: An accurate description that’s consistent with job requirements.
  2. Purpose: How the role fits into the company.
  3. Duties and responsibilities: Description of daily routine, possible projects, company expectations, commitments, attitude and both Key Performance Areas (KPA’s) and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).
  4. Requirements: Qualifications, experience, licences, professional certification, technical knowledge, skills, and ability.
  5. Preferred qualifications: Ideal experience and education.
  6. Working conditions: Location, working hours, salary/wage.

How is a Job Description Created?

The best person to prepare a job description is the person who knows and understands the role best. It could be the immediate supervisor for the role or the employee who last occupied the position. Often a company’s HR has a role to play in the creation of job descriptions. For example, they can review it to ensure that it is aligned with a company’s values and purposes. In some companies, HR “owns” job descriptions because it is an employment document that guides recruitment, succession planning, job requirements and responsibilities, training, and legal compliance.

Tips and Best Practices for Creating Job Descriptions

Remember that you want to entice someone to apply for a job. Someone who will be the best fit for the job and your company. So, keep things simple, concise, and direct; use a positive tone, with language that talks to your target top talent. Avoid internal terminology and stick to well-recognised terms and requirements. 

What would catch your eye and get you to read the whole job description, and then convince you to apply?

Try to paint an appealing picture. A job description is a promotion of both the job and the company. Why do current employees enjoy working at the company? Ask someone who has worked in the role what they enjoyed. Keep things authentic and realistic, while bringing out the interesting and appealing aspects of the job and company. Mentioning day-to-day responsibilities as well as projects is a good way of doing this. Focus on essential activities rather than occasional tasks or trivial requirements. Don’t include potential future duties or things done in the past that are no longer expected. Remember that if you oversell or exaggerate you risk being seen as untrustworthy and will make potential applicants weary. 

How to Write a Great Job Description

Increasingly jobs are only advertised online. Therefore, the title and summary need to include search terms. They also need to convey where the job is based, its flexibility (hybrid, remote or in-office), and the type of position (full-time or part-time, permanent or contract). 

Top talent isn’t just looking for a job. They want to work for an organisation that they align with and in a role with goals that resonate with them. This means sharing the company’s vision, purpose, and values and then showing how this role contributes. 

Painting a picture of a job means including benefits. These benefits are ones specific to the individual and company-related benefits. This is a good place to also state any applicable incentives or achievement bonuses. Included here are aspects such as possible career paths and existing training and skills development programmes.

By the end of a good job description, a potential candidate should be able to picture themselves in the advertised role. This means that they are aware of the job’s duties, responsibilities, and opportunities, who they’ll be working alongside and therefore what to expect. They know if they qualify to apply for the job and what they can specifically offer your company.

The old AIDA model, introduced by businessman Elias St. Elmo Lewis in the late 19th century, still has place in big brand marketing campaigns and an equally good approach to use for setting out a job description:

  1. Attention, Attraction, Awareness within the context of careers this is often contained in the headline or job title.
  2. Interest is usually created either in describing the variety, challenges and purpose of the role, but sometimes it is set to be appealing to        certain character profiles or it is built into a description of the company, its business, and its values.
  3. Desire, Decision is usually encouraged by a description of the career path, corporate benefits, flexibility in the work hours or work locations associated with the position.
  4. Action this is usually crafted as an invitation to contact the company.

3 Things to Remember When Writing a Job Description

According to the Harvard Business Review Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. The most common reason for not applying for a job is because someone thinks that they don’t meet the criteria and therefore applying is a waste of time and energy. This is a good reminder that unless it’s a prerequisite don’t include it. Otherwise, you risk a very well-qualified candidate discrediting themselves. 

Research shows that if you want to write an inclusive, widely appealing job description adjectives matter. Certain adjectives appeal to specific demographics and genders. For example, “independent” tends to appeal to men, whereas “responsible” is more likely to appeal to women. It’s also been shown that excessive detail and long lists of bullet points are off-putting

Highlighting the perks of this job can create a competitive edge within the job market. Aspects such as flexibility and promotion of life-work balance are increasingly valued by top talent. Therefore, state upfront if the job is in-office, hybrid or remote. It’s been shown that salary can be less of an incentive than job flexibility when considering a potential job opportunity.

Partner with an Expert

There’s an art to writing a great and engaging job description. It requires an understanding of what a potential employer is looking for, what appeals to the right top talent and what competitors are offering. The Key Recruitment Group offers over 45 years of experience ofinsightful and successful recruitment of top talent for clients. We help design and refine job descriptions and assist with recruitment, including finding the best candidates. Our services also include guiding interview and hiring processes and onboarding successful recruitments. Contact us today to chat about how we can support you in finding your ideal candidates.