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Essential things to include (and exclude) in your job description

A good job specification is key to attracting and evaluating the best candidates for your organisation. Investing time in writing a job description will save you time later and can benefit your business in the long run. A bad specification can mislead candidates, and at worst case scenario, result in the need to start the recruitment process all over again.

Firstly, before writing a job description you must analyse the role on offer, particularly if it's a new role. A job description should be rewritten each time the role is advertised to reflect any changes in your business requirements. Use this as an opportunity to review the role and its responsibilities. A recruitment professional will be able to help or even write a job description for you, provided you are able to furnish them with the required details for the position.

What to include in a job description

The basics

You should include most, if not all, of the following points in the structure of your job spec:

  • Job title

  • Department and to whom the employee would report

  • Location

  • Type of employment e.g. full-time, part-time, shift pattern

  • Summary of the main duties and objectives of the job as well as a detailed description of the role (ideally between five and ten key responsibilities)

  • Likely changes or developments in the role and scope for progression or promotion

  • Essential skills or qualifications required to perform the role e.g. accountancy qualifications

  • 'Soft' skills, preferred experience, or personality traits in a desirable candidate

  • Salary and benefits. Really think about what your company has to offer - you need to sell the job to the best candidates as much as they need to sell themselves to you.

Company overview

This gives you the chance to make your organisation seem more attractive than any others that may be recruiting for similar positions. Include its size and scale, and any unique selling points of working for your particular organisation; plus an idea of what the company culture is like. Strive to make your ideal candidate realise how much they want to work for you.

Language and tone

The tone of the job description can indicate the formality or informality of your organisation. Let your company's personality shine through, you will be more likely to receive applications from candidates who would be a good match. Also consider where the advert will be posted and how this might affect the wording.

What to avoid in a job description

Avoiding the wrong things in the job description will help just as much as including the right ones.

  • Too many words. Job specs should be concise and to the point

  • It is essential not to discriminate on the grounds of age, race, religion, disability, gender, or sexual orientation

  • Avoid using internal jargon or terminology. It may make sense to you, but it will be off-putting to candidates

  • Anything that isn't actually relevant to the role - don't put people off by including experience or skill requirements that won't factor into your decision.

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