min read

Mastering Job Descriptions: Key Elements for Hiring Excellence

Writing a good job description, where to start and how to nail it? This is your ultimate job description guide.

September 29, 2020
Auria Heanley
October 31, 2023

Hiring talent can be extremely time-consuming and costly, so it is important to get it right. Having a well-crafted job description will help ensure you are attracting the right people and give both employer and potential employee a clear understanding of what the role will entail.

Communicating clearly from the start will set expectations, so you want to have a job description which is detailed, accurate and clearly reflects the role and organisational goals. A job spec is also the first opportunity you get to market the business and role to future talent, so it needs to be impressive to stand out.

The Purpose of a Job Description 

An effective job description is a document which clearly outlines all the relevant information of a role within your organisation. It should give a candidate a good understanding of the duties, company culture, experience and skills needed, as well as the hours, salary, plus any benefits package provided. 

The more information you can provide, the better, and it should make a potential candidate feel excited by the opportunity. Ultimately, you want a job description to attract the best talent and to make you stand out from your competitors.

A defined job spec should simplify the recruitment process by making it clear what you are looking for to try and attract only the right people for the role. It can also be used as a document to measure an employee’s success and see how they have developed in a role over time.

See an overview of how to write a job description here.

Key Elements of an Effective Job Description

Having a job description which accurately outlines the role allows employees to have a clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve. It is also important to communicate the company's mission and core values so you can hire the right ‘team fit’; creating an aligned culture should promote morale and positively impact productivity. 

Learn more about cultural fit when hiring here.

You want a job spec to not only explain the role you are hiring for but also promote the business, so it is important it reads clearly and reflects your brand in a positive manner.

Below, we look at ways to write a clear and effective job description to give a good first impression.

1. Use clear and engaging language

Possibly the most obvious, but you want the job spec to be easy to read, grammatically correct and attractive to the eye. Perhaps include an overview of the company at the top (and not only what you say on your website) to bring it to life and bullet point duties to break up too much writing. 

Make sure you get across key messaging in the first few paragraphs and make the key information clear, including the salary provided and skills required. This will help minimise the number of applications you have to filter through which are not right.

2. Highlight growth opportunities

Good talent will want to be challenged and have room for future growth. Highlighting potential opportunities will allow you to attract driven and ambitious people and encourage them to look internally when they are ready to progress rather than looking outside of the business.

3. Include soft skills and competencies

Often, you are not only looking for someone who can carry out the duties successfully but also someone who fits in well with the culture of the business. 

These are things such as:

  • Communication
  • Flexibility
  • Collaboration
  • Time management
  • Creativity 

These are all very necessary for building a strong and positive company culture and ensuring employees work well as a team.

4. Include all your benefits

A job spec is a marketing tool, and you want the right candidate to also want to work for you! Therefore, as well as highlighting the contractual benefits provided, such as private health care and holiday allowance, don’t forget to highlight the softer benefits. Examples can include:

  • Team away days/socials
  • Opportunities to travel
  • Flexible working
  • Buddy on arrival
  • Mentor scheme
  • Charity day
  • Free lunch

5. Be clear about hybrid working

With so many candidates now used to working from home, this is something people are often prioritising when looking for a new job. Every organisation will have their own policy, but it is vital this is clearly highlighted in a job description to avoid confusion. 

It is also important to communicate if you are expecting any new employees to work more days from the office during their probation if a hybrid working model is in place. Some candidates, for childcare reasons, for example, might not have this flexibility and managing all parties' expectations from the start helps to avoid disappointment further down the line.

Avoid Bias in Job Descriptions

Everyone has bias. It’s difficult to remove altogether, but you can control the bias in your speech and in your writing. It is important to use gender-neutral language, such as ‘you’, ‘they/ them’, ‘Chairperson’, etc and avoid age, race, or gender-specific terms.

Dive deeper into diversity hiring here.

Regularly Review and Update Job Descriptions

Job roles and responsibilities change over time; they evolve and develop, and it is beneficial to keep job descriptions current if you want them to remain accurate.

Perhaps a good opportunity to review a job spec is when you do your annual employee performance reviews rather than only when you are looking to hire. It is also a good point of reference to see how much more (or less) an employee is doing in their day-to-day role.

Solid Job Descriptions Can Attract & Retain Talent

Talent acquisition and retention are essential to business success. By creating high-quality and solid job descriptions, employers can attract top talent and ensure future employees not only have the right knowledge and skills but are also the right team fit for their organisation.

A job spec is the first step in a successful employee journey, and it can be a strategic tool to shape a company’s talent and growth. The more up-to-date, the more relevant, allowing candidates to have an accurate understanding of the role they are applying for, setting them up for success from the start.

About the author:

Auria Heanley is a guest writer for HeroHunt.ai and co-founder of Oriel Partners, a boutique PA and administrative recruitment consultancy based in Central London. She is extremely passionate about providing the highest quality of service to both clients and candidates and is an expert at attracting top-tier talent with well-crafted job descriptions. Oriel Partners’ clients range from global multinationals to small boutique firms, all requiring the same personal service and high-calibre support.

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