Writing Effective Job Descriptions – Post webinar summary
Written by Max Loong, Senior Career Advisor
Thanks again to all the attendees for our webinar held last Thursday, 13 August 2020 on the topic on Writing Effective Job Descriptions – How your JDs can be a powerful tool to attract the right talents. We hope that you have enjoyed the webinar as much as we enjoyed preparing it!
For those who have missed out on the webinar, view the replay here.
As promised, here is a summary of the key points discussed on the session!
Key points discussed in the webinar
An important step companies should take before drafting Job Descriptions is to understand the role itself.
- What is the purpose of this role?
- What kind of outcomes are expected for the role in the organisation?
- What are the duties and responsibilities of this role?
- What are the physical demands and working environment he/she will be expected to be working in?
Therefore, the Human Resource function will conduct a Job Analysis process to answer those questions. A job analysis is a process used to collect information about the duties, responsibilities, necessary skills, outcomes, and work environment of a particular job. It is an exhaustive process where you will need to gather as much data as possible to put together a detailed initial Job Description.
We might cover this in greater detail in future contents, so stay tuned!
Main components of a Job Description
A job title is the first thing all job seeker will look at before reading the Job Description. So, having job titles that are specific, straightforward, and attractive will get your potential candidates click on them. As job titles should be clear and on point (e.g. Product Manager), avoid ‘flowery’ titles (e.g. Product Evangelist) with no context will only confuse them and drive job seekers away.
Company Information & Job Summary
A good job description helps job seekers visibly answer what they are in for, what is expected of them, and what can they expect from the job. That is why it is important to give them a brief picture of it through this section.
Questions you should ponder:
- What about the company will appeal to your ideal candidate?
- What is the purpose of the role?
- What does the day-to-day work look like?
- What is the company/department size?
- Who does he/she report to?
Job Duties and Responsibilities
This section details the day to day tasks, duties, and responsibilities of a candidate in order for him/her to succeed in a role. To write this well, you will need to identify which are the main job duties and list them according to importance. Be straightforward in your sentences, take out unnecessary traits that are not noteworthy to the job seekers.
Requirements and Preferences
Another section a job seeker tends to spend more time reading is the requirement and preferences. They want to know whether they are qualified for the role in their qualifications or work experience. To write this well, you will need to identify the Job Specifications:
Knowledge – The know-hows the job that comes with both qualification and working knowledge (e.g. ERP systems, Computer languages, WSH Certifications, etc.)
Skills – Applicable expertise that a candidate should possess in order to succeed in the role. (e.g. Visual Merchandising, Project Management, Accounts Payable, etc.)
Abilities – Proficiency of certain traits that usually comes along with the attitudes and values of the person. (e.g. Influence stakeholders, Negotiation, Communicate through different levels)
Not that you should clearly distinguish between Requirements (Must haves) & Preferences (Good to have)
The first thing most job seekers look at after the Job title is the remuneration package. They want to know if they will be well taken care of in the company. Making a list of the benefits and working experience that candidates can get to experience will go a long way in attracting the right candidate.
While it is not essential to include the salary in your job ad, it is often advisable. You should be prepared to set a salary on the basis of the employee’s education, skills and experience, along with location or industry. Similar to the Job Description, list the most appealing benefits first.
Breaching legal guidelines (TAFEP & PDPA): Employers must always be wary to not mention any sensitive/discriminatory requirements that will have any legal implications. If there is a need to list the requirement or preference, do include a justification for it.
Hiding important information: If you are hiding important information (that might be a deal breaker) to attract more candidates to apply for the role, chances are that you will get a higher turnover rate once they get hired. Rather, candidates would appreciate more if employers are honest with who they are looking for.
Appealing to everyone/no one: Marketers say this a lot – If you’re targeting everyone, you’re targeting no one. It is crucial to know who you are looking for, and also what they are looking for as well.
Meaningless buzzwords: It is normal to develop a common language after a few years in a company/industry, unbeknownst to your potential job seekers. You might just subconsciously list some jargons or buzzwords (e.g. synergies, growth hacking, etc.) that candidates may not be able to understand, causing them to lose interest. Listing down your Job Description that in a layman context will work better for job seekers to be in the same page as you.
Attracting the right audience
Believe it or not, it takes only 49.7 seconds for a candidate to scan through a job description and decide if they want to apply for your job listing. Capturing their attention is then crucial for you to attract the right audience for your vacancies.
Keep it within 300 – 700 words: Keep your Job Descriptions specific, concise, but still professional.
Know your target audience: Study your target audience through different means. What are they looking for in their careers? What would motivate them?
Company branding & Engagement: What better way to attract your next potential hire if they are already familiar with your company brand? Establish your company as a good place to be working in – a place where people can see their future careers in. This takes time to fulfil, but you will reap the benefits in the long run.