How to write the perfect job description

Need to hire new employees for your business? Find out how to write the perfect job description – and attract the right candidates.

When running your own small business, automating tasks and relying on software and technology can streamline your processes and ensure you (and your business) works smarter.

Systems like CIPHR HR software, for example, carry out tasks such as processing your company’s payroll, sorting out expenses and getting new starters up and running can be completed with the minimum of stress.

However, as business writer Patrick Vernon explains, some functions need a more human touch. And finding and recruiting the people your business is one such task.

How to write the perfect job description

If you need to recruit new employees to your business, the first important step in finding the perfect person is writing the job description.

Get it right and it will attract the right people for the role (and your business); It will let potential candidates know what your role’s priorities are and how well they’re likely to fit in. And to help you get your job descriptions right first time, here are some quick pointers.

Use language everyone can understand

‘Stand-ups’ might be a common term to describe quick meetings for you and your current colleagues, but to a potential applicant it may seem as though your company is staffed by comedians. As recruitment firm Michael Page points out, you need to stick to well-recognised terminology so that the widest possible audience understands what you’re looking for.

Catch a candidate’s eye says that a good job description is more than just a list of bullet points. Decide who you want to attract and then use language targeted to them. Adopt the voice you think your firm would use if it were talking to prospective employees. Then, consider the essential functions of the role and include them in the description so that it can be used as a checklist in the future.

Essential or preferred?

Some specialisms are necessary for any given role, but the perfect candidate may not tick every box on your wishlist. Overtly emphasising specific experience, qualifications and skills may in fact prove counterproductive, as you may sound exclusionary and rigid in your requirements.

Keep it brief

Around 500 words is a good length for a job description, as long as the basics are covered. Any more than that and candidates are likely to move on to something else that’s easier to process. List four or five competencies, education and experience requirements and leave it at that. More detailed info can be provided in an additional downloadable document.

Outline the process clearly

Make sure that a candidate is in no doubt when it comes to how to apply. Complicated, time-consuming application procedures may put some off (although that could be a clever way to ascertain the more determined applicants). Give concise instructions and let them know what the selection process entails.

Make your company sound human

Nobody wants to work for a firm of robots, so try to cut out the overly formal language. Apart from making the information you need to get across easier to read, you’ll get the personality of the workplace across and help candidates get a sense of what it’d be like to work there.

Be careful to match the tone of your post to the work your company carries out. You probably don’t want too much joviality if you’re posting on behalf of a firm of solicitors, but friendly assuredness is perfectly appropriate.

Need more recruiting tips?

Recruiting people for your business can be a minefield. You can read more advice on finding and hiring the right people in these articles: