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5 top tips to write a great job description – and some job description templates!

Helping you write a good job description with 5 top tips and great templates

Struggling to write an appealing job description? Looking for templates to help you?

For small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), the prospect of competing with very large and visible players when it comes to recruitment can be overwhelming – leaving them feeling a bit like David vs. Goliath.

You’re not alone – 75% of hiring managers recently surveyed by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and Hays experienced recruitment difficulties, with Brexit intensifying what is called ‘the war for talent’.

In that competitive context, it’s key to write good job descriptions when looking to recruit talent – concise, transparent and authentic – to be able to attract and retain great candidates, and in turn grow your business successfully.

But having written job descriptions myself in the past, I know how daunting a task it can be.

So, to help you beat the blank page syndrome, here are 5 top tips to get you started and a selection of great job templates, either blank or specialised, for you to attract the best candidates, now!

On your marks, get set, go!

Tip #1 – Size does matter: job descriptions should neither be too short or too long

Appcast.io analysed 2+ billion job ads, 120+ million job seekers and 33+ million clicks to measure the ‘click-to-apply’ rate.

In their latest ‘Mini Book of Maximum Impact’, they showed a strong correlation between the length of job descriptions and how likely candidates were to apply for the roles advertised.

So, how long should the job descriptions be?

Ideally, between 501 and 1,000 characters.

For the ones of you who likes charts and facts – here you go!

Source: Appcast

Anything longer or shorter, and the job descriptions ‘click-to-apply’ rate drops dramatically.

Tip #2 – It’s all in the name: job titles are important

Wondering if job titles are still important today?

Think about your own…

We all want to feel that we are important, successful, valued…

Office Angels surveyed 1,500 office workers and they found that 70% would opt for a better job title over a pay hike.

So, how do you figure out a job title for a new position you are creating?

Consistency is key. 

The job title should be consistent with the rest of your employees’ titles, and consistent with the types of roles and responsibilities you are expecting the new employee to have.

And not too long – ideally between 51 and 60 characters to be very precise, as measured once again by Appcast.io!

Source: Appcast

Still unsure about which job title to use?

Browse on some of the job boards (reed.co.uk, monster.co.uk, indeed.co.uk), type in the job title you are thinking about using, and pick a selection of roles, read their job descriptions, to see if it fits with what you have in mind.

Tip #3 – ‘Competitive salary’ is not competitive: be transparent about salary

As revealed by Smart Recruit Online or Payscale, a number of studies have shown that when jobs don’t include a salary range, or when they say ‘salary: competitive’, they receive 30-50% less applications.

Still, 85% of jobs posted are still missing salary information in the US, which I’m sure, could be extrapolated in the UK. Providing salary information could give you a competitive edge!

But, how to figure out the salary to offer, in a fluctuating market?

If you are unsure about the salary to pay, browse on some of the job boards (reed.co.uk, monster.co.uk, indeed.co.uk), type in the job title you are thinking about using and the location of the role you are planning to recruit.

This should give you a very good, accurate and up-to-date idea of the salary range you can include on your job description.

Tip #4 – Clarity, clarity, clarity: keep it simple and transparent

Candidates don’t like surprises. 

Keep JD simple and transparent - candidates don't like surprises

And I am sure you don’t like wasting time!

The clearer you are about the job’s role and responsibilities, location, potential for flexibility, working hours, essential vs. desirable skills, the least time you will spend filtering through CVs that don’t match your needs.

And the lower the risk that once hired, the candidate will not deliver what you expect him / her to deliver, as mentioned by Ferdinand Fournies in Why Don’t Employees Do What They’re Supposed to Do and What To Do About It?

So, how do you ensure that your job description is attractive and avoids any jargon?

Ask your partner, a friend who has nothing to do with your company (your grand-mother?) to read your job description, to ensure it’s self-explanatory.

Tip #5 – ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’: be personal and share your mission

This is a sentence from Peter Drucker, made famous by Mark Fields, President at Ford.

To attract talent, be personal to stand out as an SMB

What does it mean?

That at the end of the day, no matter how good your company’s strategy is, it is its culture that drives performance.

As a small and medium sized business, it might be more difficult to stand out and compete with bigger players as it come to recruitment – in a survey from Sage, a staggering (but unsurprising!) 93% of the 1,350 UK business surveyed believed it was more difficult for SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) to compete with more established players.

It’s even more important for you to convey what is special about your company, your products or services, your culture, your employees, your story.

I like the way Harvard Business Review phrases it: ‘to give your employees meaning, start with mission’.

How to do that?

Look at your blog, your website, your promotional material.

I am sure it reflects your company’s personality, voice and stories.

Try to use this vocabulary and tone in your job description as it will attract candidates that would have a better cultural fit with your company.

And don’t hesitate to appeal to emotions!

Just before you go…
Some job description templates to get you started!

JD template

You’re now ready to start writing that dreaded job description – to help you beat the blank page syndrome, I thought you might be interested in a selection of good job description templates, either blank, or more specialised by industry?

If you want to get started, you can find here a selection of good job description templates, typically used in the UK.

  • If you are looking for examples of blank job descriptions for UK roles, you can find good templates on the following links:
  • A template from the BBC pre-populated with examples
  • A selection of templates from the ACAS – the independent organisation for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Services
  • A template from Microsoft
  • If you are looking for industry-specific job description templates, from restaurant manager to bookkeeper or HR manager, I would recommend you to visit the following pages:
  • Monster website with job descriptions, including responsibilities, duties, skills and qualifications for 332 (!) different jobs, very easily searchable – simply type the job title in the ‘Search Resource Center’ field and you’ll find the associated job description.
  • Workable website with hundreds of job description templates, organised by type (from accounting to Construction, Hospitality, Retail and Health).

So, remember, before you go… Be concise… Be transparent… Be yourself!

Do you have other tips to share? Job descriptions nightmare?

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

And PS – when you request temporary staff through TempaGoGo, we give you pre-populated job descriptions to make your life even easier!

Caroline from TempaGoGo


Looking to hire temp staff now?

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