Writing a Job Description
Before you do anything else stop and think. Do you really need to recruit?
If your vacancy has come about because of someone leaving; do you need to replace them?
Whenever 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 the business.
Now is a good 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.
Any 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 process. So take the time to work out exactly what the business needs are before you start the recruitment process.
Recruitment is 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.
Whether you 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 them.
Where to Start
So where do you start and what should you include in a job description?
A job description should not be too long or include too much detail.
Instead it 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.
Sometimes in smaller companies where people take on additional duties this list may be longer but avoid going over fifteen.
A job 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 both.
Job Objective or Key Purpose Statement
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 Duties
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 bottom.
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 meeting”
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.
Where will the work be performed?
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 Benefits
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 Description
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 the terminology.
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.