When the time comes to recruit, often rushed and seen as a necessary evil, Job Description, when done right, can be actually used as a powerful tool to attract and retain the right people to your organisations, especially when building your executive and c-suite teams.
In this note, we would like to share with you what a good Job Description should look like and how to write one.
A good job description not only defines the responsibilities and accountabilities of the role, it sets the foundation for attracting, developing and retaining talent. It is also instrumental for defining and evaluating work performance and serves as an important component to maintaining an equitable compensation system and ensuring legal compliance. As a document, it should be revisited and updated following the annual performance evaluation cycle.
When the time comes to recruit, often rushed and seen as a necessary evil, job description, when done right, can be actually used as a powerful tool to attract the right people to your organisations, especially when building your executive and c-suite teams.
During this global pandemic, when some people are looking for a new role (often in need of a job, after they have been laid off), others, currently employed, may be more cautious, opting to stay where they are for longer and not willing to take unnecessary risks. In these challenging times, recruitment of the right people poses a brand new set of challenges. How do you convince them to join your company? How do you get the right ones to apply? How do you select the right candidates?
The right job description can be of great help here. Here’s how to write one:
Who should I get involved?
People involved in the process, besides the hiring manager and their HR Business Partner should include:
- The hiring manager and the leadership team – learn what the real needs of the team are, how the newcomer will complement the existing team, where the gaps are, what is the scope of the role, what are the challenges and opportunities for development
- People on the team who are currently in a similar role – are all of their current responsibilities also required from the newcomer?
- If you’re looking to replace somebody, during the exit interview of the person who held this role, find out what the role was like to them, to get the full picture of the position. Were the expectations realistic? Should anything be changed? Is this role and its scope still relevant for where the company is now, compared to where it was when that person was hired? If not, what should be changed or adjusted?
- Finally, the person offered the role. As job descriptions are often written to primarily describe the role and not the individual taking it, although not always necessary, it can be a good idea to adjust the Job Description to suit the individual taking the position, and how they will contribute with their particular set of skills and experiences.
What should a good job description include?
- An introduction of the company – the brief story of who you are, how long you have been around, what you do and why you do it.
- A background of the role: why this job exists or will be created. Reporting lines. Location. Travelling requirements.
- The motivation of the newcomer. What do you want this person to want from this role? What should be their goals?
- The opportunity: What is in this role for them. How they can contribute. What their impact will be. What they can learn. How they can grow. What they can achieve. How this role and your company are different.
- Key responsibilities.
- Required and preferred. Particularly, when recruiting for niche positions, it is important to consider what is truly necessary and where you can compromise. Are 10 years of that marketing experience really critical? Will 7 be enough? Do they really need a PhD?
Keep the job description brief, particularly the list of responsibilities. That said, it is a good idea to keep 2 versions of it: one, used after the initial contact with the candidate, and the other, at more advanced stages of interviewing, when more expectations need to be shared and agreed on.
Just as you may not enjoy reading lengthy CVs from candidates when they apply, those, particularly not actively looking for a new role, can be very selective in terms of their options. In an increasingly competitive, smaller and more connected world, with limited time to spare and an attention span decreasing, first impressions matter more than ever.
Job description is not, and should not be a Job Advert.
Many companies make the mistake of using their Job Descriptions (often generic) when advertising their roles, listing merely a set of demands and requirements, must-haves and must-dos, required by the applicants. These days, when flexible and remote working has become a reality that will not simply disappear, when things eventually go back to normal, even more than before, candidates will be interested in how this role you’re advertising fits their lives, their aspirations, career goals, as well as family lives. To become competitive and get the best, tell the story and think of impact those candidates will have in your organisation, what is the challenge and opportunity for them, rather than presenting a list of demands.
Just as a direct message or an advert is there to attract the attention and trigger an action – causing the right person to apply, job description is a part of the candidate attraction process, albeit a separate one.
How can Virdis help?
Here at Virdis, we often highlight to our clients the importance of a well-written Job Description and offer writing it, as part of the search and our service. Equally, we offer workshops, online or at client sites, team or one-to-one structured brainstorming sessions, to generate ideas and lead implementable changes which will improve your organisation’s stability, attractiveness and competitiveness. We can help you define who you are, who you want to be and how to attract the right people who will fit and complement your team.