The importance of a good job description

As the UK starts to open up for business, it’s no surprise to find that many businesses are now busy gearing up for a return to better times. One area that is crucial for business recovery is recruitment.

In the next few months, we anticipate an increase in the number of candidates looking to change jobs or secure employment, so, for employers, that means producing an effective job description for any vacancies you will be recruiting for.

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What makes a good job description?

The first thing to consider is the importance of a well written job specification. After all, according to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, hiring the wrong person can have a significant impact on productivity and prove to be an expensive decision.

In fact, they go on to say that a ‘poor hire’ contributes around 25% less value than a ‘good match’ and costs three times more than just a wasted salary.

There is no doubt, the second half of 2021 is going to be a critical time for UK businesses. Both Covid and Brexit have disrupted the labour market to such an extent that many businesses are now completely re-evaluating their staffing needs. For some, the Covid pandemic has encouraged them to consider remote working, while others have changed their business model and consequently require a different set of employee skills.

A precise and compelling job description is, therefore, going to be a number one priority for any recruiting business wanting to stand out and attract the right candidate. In fact, it is said that prospective candidates take just six seconds to decide whether the job description applies to them. This is despite over 75% of candidates saying that it’s the job description that persuades them to apply for the position.

What is a job description’s job?

Its main role is to enable the prospective candidate to make an informed decision that yours is the kind of organisation they would like to work for. One of its key roles, therefore, is to sell your brand to the reader. This means providing a summary of what makes your business unique and worth working for, as well as its achievements and successes.

Talk about the kind of projects the successful candidate could be involved in, the range of clients, and how your product or service benefits them, as well as the potential for progression within the company (but without any oversell).

Also, don’t overlook the possibility that should the position not be what they are looking for, they might know someone for whom it is.

Where do you start?

A job description should include corporate information such as vision and mission statements, success stories, possible links to media coverage, blogs, location, and current members of staff before you go into finer details about the position.

This is where a recruitment partner can really help. After all, a job description forms part of the contract of employment so it’s important to ensure it’s clear and concise to avoid any potential conflicts in the future (‘that’s not what it said in the job description’ etc.)

If it’s a role that already exists, then it’s worth re-visiting the original job description and see how much of it still applies. If expanding the team – talk to current staff and see if they consider the role has changed.

If it’s a new position, an external opinion from a recruitment partner will certainly help identify the requirements of the role, as well as ensure the content is compliant with all the new employment laws, and HR rules and regulations that have been introduced over the past few years.

For example, the unintentional use of discriminatory words or gender specific roles etc. This can be a minefield and could lead to a negative reaction or even worse – legal action. We suggest keeping it simple and precise while being generic to the current employment pool, but specific enough for the position in question.

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An effective job description should include the following:

Job title

For maximum effectiveness, be precise and specific, and use words that accurately describe the role, such as HSQE Manager / Electrician / class 2 driver / CSCS labourer / climber tree surgeon etc. The more precise the description the better the results.

Unless you are specifically targeting qualified staff with recognisable accreditation as above, try and avoid in-house jargon and acronyms. Remember, listings will be online so need to be Google friendly. Include key phrases such as ‘manager’, ‘supervisor’ or ‘director’ etc. rather than just descriptive content like ‘responsible for’, ‘in control of’ or ‘experienced in’. Specific keywords will then be picked up by search engines.

Also, keep the job title concise – it’s said that titles containing between 60- 80 characters outperform shorter / longer titles by 30 – 40%.

Job summary

This should provide an overview of the position and the company’s expectations of the role. This section provides the prospective candidate with a feel of what makes the organisation worth working for.

Highlight the company’s success stories, emphasise the brand message, and talk about the culture of the company.

This is where you should also include relevant details such as salary range, hours worked, holiday entitlement, site location, travel / parking etc. Including work location also helps to optimise the posting online for more effective search results.

Responsibilities / duties

Once again, be precise and concise. Outline the key roles the candidate will undertake as part of their employment. The more detailed the better, especially the responsibilities that are unique to the organisation.

It’s also good idea here to outline the regular activities involved.  You might want to break down the time staff are expected to devote to different aspects of the position.

Include details of the hierarchy of the role, in other words who they report to and how their role affects the functionality of the business. This is also good place to talk about team working versus solo working, especially if they are expected to be self-sufficient.

Qualifications / skills

Treat these as separate entities. You may advertise for someone who is a ‘self-starter’ or ‘works well with others’. These personality attributes will appear under the qualifications heading, while skills should include both hard (e.g. technical skills) and soft (e.g. problem solving).

Of course, you will also clearly identify necessary qualifications. However, there is no need to list every desirable qualification (unless you want to put people off applying), just the ones that enable them to do the job.

Other details

A job description will also include details of salary range, benefits – such as car / car allowance, laptop, phone, flexible hours etc, as well as desirable qualities (languages / computer competence etc.)

Finally, as you can see, producing a job description in today’s sensitive employment environment is not something to be undertaken lightly. It’s crucial that you ensure you are not putting an unintentional bias in your job description. Falling foul of the laws regarding gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity, and using language that would be considered discriminatory or even offensive.

Contact us

We are here to help you create a compelling reason why someone should want to come and work for you. Contact us on 0845 478 5009 or email enquiries@multitaskpersonnel.co.uk to see how we can help with your next recruitment campaign today.