Crafting a job description involves meticulous consideration of language, tone, and detail to effectively communicate the role’s essence. It goes beyond a simple list of tasks and qualifications, instead serving as a narrative that attracts, informs, and aligns with the organizational culture and the aspirations of potential candidates. Whether outlining a new position or refining an existing description, mastering the art of writing job descriptions enhances recruitment efforts and builds a skilled and inclusive workforce.

What is a Job Description?

A job description is a formal document outlining the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, skills, and expectations for a specific job or position within an organization. It is a foundational tool for recruitment, selection, performance evaluation, and employee management. Additionally, job descriptions serve as a reference point for assessing employee performance, setting goals, and identifying areas for training and development.

Why is a well-written job description essential?

A well-written job description is essential for several reasons.

  • Clarity leads to transparency about the duties and responsibilities of a specific role, which helps job seekers make informed decisions.
  • It can attract more qualified applicants who align with the organization’s values.
  • It sets clear benchmarks for performance evaluation and helps potential employees understand how their contributions align with the organization’s goals and objectives.
  • It facilitates effective talent acquisition and promotes alignment, accountability, and clarity within the organization’s workforce.

How to Write a Good Job Description

1. Job Title

The job title will attract initial views and clicks to your job post. Standard job titles include one to three words. Evidence shows that shorter job titles receive twice as many clicks as those with over 12 characters. However, your job title could be the key to boosting your applications. A recent study found job titles that included the salary or salary range significantly improved click rate

Plus, the job title is the main keyword(s) your applicants will use to find the position. So, any job title with an outdated name or uncommon title will get buried. For example, a bookkeeper will have fewer applications than a more straightforward title like an accountant.

2. Location

Job location previously indicated where the office is located. Today, the job’s location can include satellite locations, remote work, and hybrid options. Putting aside what the job is, where you recruit can see vast differences in application rates. For instance, a job in Texas can see an application rate of 5.79%, but if you were in New Hampshire, you’d get an application rate of 3.75%

If the job does not require being in person at all times, we recommend providing remote or hybrid work environment options, as 64% of applicants applied to at least one remote job.  

3. Responsibilities

The meat and potato section of a job description is the list of responsibilities. It gives applicants a peek at their future day-to-day tasks and team projects. Limiting the job description to 300 words or less is a good rule of thumb. Studies show that most applicants only spend 49 seconds skimming through applications before applying. It should be substantive but short enough to keep a candidate’s attention.

4. Qualifications & Benefits 

Make a list of ten hard and soft skills that your candidates must have. These should be skills relevant to the position they would use daily—skills they could not perform without. General program skills, like Google Suite and any Microsoft product, or vague soft skills, like critical thinking or adaptability, would not be included in this list. 

Include a separate list of desirable skills for the candidate. These include years of experience, familiarity with software or management tools, etc. Finally, write the list of benefits the employee will gain access to. 

Note that if a role requires a specific technical skill set or industry knowledge, that should precede other jargon. For example, if you need to hire for a sales position and pharmaceutical experience is a core requirement, the job title should be “Pharmaceutical Sales Representative.”

5. About

The About section serves as more than just a rundown of the company’s facts and figures; it offers a glimpse into the organization’s culture. Hiring managers have the opportunity to showcase engaging team-building activities, anecdotes from office life, and distinctive elements of the work environment.

General Job Description Best Practices 

  • Job descriptions should be 300-800 words total
  • Ensure it is mobile and desktop-friendly 
  • Use bullet points for organization
  • Strike a balance between specific and general information
  • Prioritize active language 
  • Write at a 9th-grade reading level
  • Avoid using too many acronyms

Best Practices to Write Inclusive Job Descriptions

Use Inclusive Language: Employ gender-neutral language and avoid terms that may indicate bias towards a particular gender, race, age, or background.

Avoid Unconscious Bias: Be mindful of unconscious bias when crafting job descriptions. Consider how particular language or requirements might unintentionally exclude certain groups of people.

Provide Resources for Accessibility: Ensure that job descriptions are accessible to individuals with disabilities by providing alternative formats or accommodations as needed. Also, consider offering flexibility in work arrangements or accommodations for individuals with disabilities to encourage a diverse pool of candidates to apply.

Highlight Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: Mention your company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion within the job description and any equal opportunity statement. The more language around supporting minority communities and developing diverse workforces, the more encouraged candidates from underrepresented groups will feel to apply.

Consult with Diverse Stakeholders: When developing job descriptions, seek input from a diverse group of employees or stakeholders to ensure they reflect a variety of perspectives and experiences.

Regularly Review and Update: Review and update job descriptions regularly to ensure they remain inclusive and aligned with the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and values.

Job Description Checklist

Download PDN’s free job description checklist below!

Job Description Tools

Hemingway App 

Copy and paste your job description text into Hemingway, and you can see indications of the grade level of your writing, the quality of the job description, and what areas could use improvement.

Gender Decoder for Job Ads 

Never let a job description be published with gendered language again! Simply paste your job description into this tool for a quick and easy way to check whether a job advert has the kind of subtle linguistic gender coding that could discourage candidates. 

Job Page Grader 

Paste any of your job URLs into this tool to check them against 80 proven performance criteria that affect whether someone applies for that role.

As we conclude our exploration of writing job descriptions, it’s evident that they are more than just formal documents; they are invitations to join a journey, opportunities to shape careers, and pivotal instruments in building thriving teams. By infusing clarity, inclusivity, and authenticity into our descriptions, you attract the right talent and lay the groundwork for meaningful relationships and shared success. 

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