How to Write a Job
Before you do
anything else stop and think. Do you really need to recruit?
vacancy has come about because of someone leaving; do you need to replace
someone leaves, it is tempting to just replace them, but someone leaving is a great opportunity to take a fresh
look at, not only the role, but also other people within the business. Do you need to fill the position or
can some of the job be taken on by other people within the company. Giving people additional responsibility
is a great way of making them feel valued. Maybe the job role needs to be changed to reflect changes within
Now is a great
time to review things and make sure that, when you recruit, you are not only looking at the present needs of the
business, but are also thinking about how the role and responsibilities will develop.
recruitment should start with a proper job description. This will encourage you to analyse the present and
future needs of the business and help to ensure that you start looking for the right skills and experience right
from the outset. Recruitment takes up enough time without having to start again two or three weeks into the
one of the most important roles that you will take on within your business. The wrong choice of employee can
be an expensive mistake for any company, especially within small companies or small teams where the performance of
one individual can have a huge impact on results.
are replacing a leaver or recruiting for a new position, it is important to give some thought to exactly what you
are expecting from a new staff member.
This is an
opportunity to define expectations at the beginning and lay the foundations for a professional working
relationship. A well written job description details your expectations in terms of performance and forms the basis
for performance and development reviews in the future, helping you to develop staff and get the best from
So where do
you start and what should you include in a job description?
description should not be too long or include too much detail.
should focus on the key areas of the role that are critical to the success of the individual in that role. A good
place to start is by asking managers or staff already doing the job to come up with a list of tasks and
responsibilities, get them to think about what is included in a working day or week.
If you do the
same, you will quickly find that you have covered all areas of the role between you.
Go from there
to brain-storming with a colleague to refine your list in order of importance. Think about the individual tasks
involved and the methods used to accomplish those tasks. Refine the list down to no more than ten or so key points
which you see as the most important.
smaller companies where people take on additional duties this list may be longer but avoid going over
description needs to include certain key areas but there are no set rules, and if you think that an additional area
is important, include it.
These are the
main areas that need to be included.
The job title needs to be descriptive of the
role itself. Job titles can easily give the wrong impression as different companies give different titles to roles.
If the job description is going to form the basis for an advertisement, think about how the job title will be
interpreted by someone outside of your company culture.
A classic example of this is the phrase
Sales Manager which can have a number of different meanings. Managing sales, Managing people or
Job Objective or Key Purpose
This is a summary of the role designed to
give an outline of the key responsibilities of the role. It gives a guide to the main aims of the role together
with the level and expectations and should ideally be three or four sentences long.
List of Main
You do not want to include everything in
this description but a good guideline is that if the person spends any significant time on this part of the role
then it is worth including. Some tasks are critical to the success of the role. Start with the key responsibilities
in terms of importance. Key roles at the top of the list working down to the less critical tasks at the
It is important to keep this list current
and relevant so avoid language that can limit the role. One example of this might be with an office manager’s role
where they are responsible for “maintaining stock levels of stationery”. This might be better put as “maintaining
and developing a stationery stock system that maintains stock levels whilst maximising savings”
This encourages the person to develop the
role and think outside the job description.
A little time spent on developing and
refining the language of the job description now can pay dividends at a later date.
Also think about explanations included
within the list such as “Report current week’s sales figures to team leader ready for Monday morning management
Who does the role report to? Is the role
supervisory? Are there other departments or people within the business with which the role interacts? Define the
relationships and what is expected in terms of developing those relationships.
Job Specifications Standards and
What are the minimum qualifications required
to fulfil the essential elements of the role. Detail educational qualifications as well as experience, knowledge
and the skills required. Break the list down into essential skills that must be included and preferred skills that
would be useful but are not essential. This will help you to pre-select candidates.
It is also important to think about the
likely personality of the successful person. Do they need to be self motivated, good with people, pay attention to
detail, mix well in a team environment and be friendly and outgoing on the phone. Give some thought to the current
team and how they will interact with them.
Where will the work be
This is an opportunity to define the lesser
parts of the role that the person is expected to carry out but that may not be critical tasks.
Salary Range and
Upper and Lower Salary Range and list any
benefits that the company supplies, pension, life insurance, health cover, holidays, parking, staff canteen, free
tea and coffee etc..
The Finished Job
Once you have completed your job
description, get a colleague or two to take a look at it and come up with any recommendations. Get someone who
isn’t involved in the role in any way to take a look at it and see if it makes sense; does it make easy reading,
have you avoided jargon, is it written in plain speaking English, can someone outside your company understand all
When you are completely happy with the job
description you are ready to start recruiting for the role.
Remember, if you would like help with
writing a job description, we are happy to get involved as part of our recruitment process.
Guide to Recruitment -
How to Write a People Spec
Candidates - Pre-selecting Candidates - Job Interviewing -
Assessing Candidates - Making a Job