A job description is an essential tool to attract quality talent. By carefully tailoring the fundamental elements of a job description, you can effectively target the candidate pool you are seeking.
In creating a job description, your first step is to give the position a job title. Although a job title may only be a few words, it plays a crucial role in the purpose of a job description. The job title is the gateway to the talent pool you seek.
An effective job title should:
An example of a good job title is “Senior Nurse Recruiter.” A candidate understands that this is a position above entry-level, the job entails recruiting in the healthcare industry and the title is understood in the recruiting industry.
Once a job title catches a candidate’s attention, the listed duties will elaborate to ensure the candidate is properly qualified. When creating a list of primary duties and responsibilities, your goal should be to keep the list as short and effective as possible. No more than ten tasks should be associated with the position and no more than two sentences should be dedicated to each task.
Each task should be described in outcome-based terms, containing an action and purpose. A good example would be, “Compiles monthly reports to allow monitoring of department’s budget.” With this example, the candidate understands the action he will be expected to take (compiling monthly reports) and the purpose (to allow monitoring of the department’s budget).
Skills & Competencies
The skills and competencies required for a position should be described separately. Skills are abilities the candidate has acquired from experience or qualifications obtained, while competencies are inherent traits a candidate is expected to display in carrying out the duties of the position. Data entry is a skill, while strong communication and leadership are competencies. As the modern trends shift towards competency-based job descriptions, qualities such as flexibility and initiative are given extra weight.
Another important element of the job description is the relationships that are created with the position. Two types of relationships, reporting lines and working relationships, are important here. These relationships expand on the skills and competencies required.
Reporting lines clarify the listed responsibilities by indicating who the candidate reports to and who reports to the candidate. Identifying these relationships gives the candidate insight into the company’s hierarchical structure and where this position fits in that structure. For a supervisory position where many employees report to the candidate, good leadership is a desirable competency and supervisory experience is a desirable skill.
Working relationships indicate the people and departments that the candidate will work closely with in the position. This may also include the extent of that interaction. These relationships will give the candidate insight into whether the position entails a team environment or not, the type of team and the skills they will bring. A position that rarely works with other departments or employees will require the ability to problem-solve effectively and efficiently without the aid of others. A position that involves teamwork will emphasize fostering cooperation and good communication skills.
Salary is an optional element of the job description, but it must always be considered. If used, salary can be expressed several different ways: as a range, as a set number or as a ceiling or floor of compensation. However, advertising a position’s salary can be restricting for both the candidate and the employer. Setting even a range of compensation may exclude talent that an employer may be willing to go outside of the range for. Because salary will depend on education, experience and ability, its best discussed with the candidate at the time of interview.
In closing, a job description is more than a list of duties. It is a valuable tool; the key to attracting top talent. It is worth the extra time it takes to tailor each element carefully. The more tailored and accurate the description, the better the results and the more likely you are to find the superstar you seek.