Hiring Tips Human Resources

Writing an Effective Job Description: Stick to the Basics

Finding the right employee for the job can be a difficult process. In today’s tight job market, you might be flooded with applications. You can interview dozens of people, none of whom seem to really meet your needs. To save time and effort, one of the best strategies you can use is to write an effective job description.

What does Your Job Description REALLY Need?

The first step to writing a truly effective job description is to decide what you really need from the employee you’ll hire.

  • What actual tasks will be completed during the day?
  • What skills are really required to complete those tasks?
  • What experience, if any, is really needed?
  • What hours do you need the employee to work?

Avoid adding anything additional that’s not specifically-related to the position.

Ditch the Platitudes

Phrases such as, “Provides great customer service” are overly obvious and just take up space in your job description. If you’re trying to hire a customer service agent, listing requirements such as “be friendly” or, “enjoy working with people” is redundant.

Avoid Long Lists of Job Tasks

Some jobs have so few tasks that the person writing the job description feels as though there should be more involved, if for no other reason than to make the description a little longer. For instance, if you’re hiring a receptionist, the tasks probably include:

  • Answer the phone
  • Take and relay important phone messages.
  • Greet clients.

Sure, it’s a short list. But unless you’re paying your new receptionist $70k a year, should you expect much more? While you might find it helpful for your new hire to know Excel or Photoshop, if those skills aren’t necessary, you might be missing out on a great receptionist who reads your description and doesn’t qualify.

Don’t be Greedy in Your Job Description

It can be tempting to think that you can get an employee with more experience, education and flexibility than you really need. After all, isn’t the economy struggling? Aren’t people begging for jobs? You might feel that you can find a highly-qualified employee to do a job that is typically entry-level. And the truth is that you might be able to do exactly that. But is that a good idea? No—for two main reasons.

1) If your new employee is over-qualified, he’ll quickly become bored. A bored employee is an unhappy employee, which can affect not only his morale, but that of your other employees, too.

2) Your new employee might take your job offer, but he won’t stop looking for a better job. You’ll end up spending precious time and money hiring and training him, only to have him quit a few months later.

Instead, just list the qualifications you really need from your new employee. If you’re hiring a receptionist, do you really require a bachelor’s degree and 8 years of experience?

Be Honest

You want to find an employee that’s not only a good fit for the position, but is also a good fit for your company. Be honest about the hours you require, and the pay and benefits you’re willing to provide. While you shouldn’t pad the description with extraneous requirements, you should definitely list everything that is required. Be honest with your expectations, and you’ll find a new employee who is capable, willing and even excited to work for you.