How to Write A Good Job Description

Most Job Descriptions these days are nothing more than thinly disguised Recruiting Documents. The lines have become blurred between them.

It’s important to notice this distinction because a Recruiting Document is all about trying to hire the right person for the job and a Job Description is all about giving the person clarity about their job once they have it.

When the lines between the two documents become blurred, it’s unfair on everyone including the new hire, the manager, and the other employees.

Because, without a good job description, there’s lots of room for broken communication, misunderstanding, lost productivity, and fractured morale.

Although it is hard to pin down exactly how this “blurring” happened, it’s clear that both the Internet and the desire for a “quick” fix have been major contributors.

The conversation probably goes something like this…

“Find me a Job Description or write one for this position we need to fill!”

“OK, I found one online after I did a Google search on Job Descriptions. So it must be right. After all, Google can’t be wrong. So, let’s just use it as a template and modify it slightly. It’ll be fine – looks official to me!”

But, all too often, companies don’t end up with a good Job Description. Instead they end up with a modified Recruiting Document.

One way to tell the difference is that a Recruiting Document has this information…

  • A Salary range
  • Minimum Experience and Education requirements
  • Skills needed and/or abilities required, often including both “hard” skills (product, services and task/technical knowledge) and “soft” skills (people, communication, management, customer service, selling etc.)

Although this information is critical in a Recruiting Document breakout in order to hire and select the right candidate, it doesn’t belong in a Job Description.

That’s because once someone is hired, none of this information is necessary for them to do their job and therefore should NOT be in the Job Description.

Writing a good Job Description is not an easy task. It takes a lot of knowledge and experience.

We hope that the guidelines below will help you on your way to becoming better at this critical skill.

Here’s how to create a meaningful Job Description. It needs 5 elements…

  1. A Function Title
  2. Clarity about Reporting Lines
  3. A Mandate Statement
  4. Major Responsibilities
  5. Objectives/ Goals/ Results

1. A Function Title.

For example, “Sales Manager” or “IT Manager”.

2. Clarity about Which Function the Function Reports To (usually relevant in larger companies).

For example, “Sales Manager” reports to “Director of Regional Sales”

3. A Mandate Statement. This is a lot like an “elevator” speech for the Job. It tells what the Job is in one tight statement.

For example, “To proactively manage, grow and support the assigned sales team at the highest level of professionalism and competence while modeling the relevant behaviors and staying within the overall function’s scope of authority and responsibility and negotiated performance parameters at all times.”

4. Major Responsibilities of the function. These are usually only one or two words – rarely more.

For example … Management…Operations…Strategic Planning… Budgeting… Administration… Professional Development… etc.

5. The specific Objectives/Goals/Results* broken out by Responsibility.

*The words Objectives, Goals, and Results are all synonyms for each other which means you can use any one of them interchangeably since they all mean exactly the same thing. Although they mean the same thing, in some business cultures, the word “Objective” is treated as a higher level view of a Goal or Result and used this way – “Here is your Objective and here are the Goals you need to achieve to reach this Objective”. This is inaccurate and confusing – the 3 words are synonyms and can be used interchangeably.

A good Objective/Goal/Result in a Job Description must make these 3 expectations clear.

They are … How much? Of What? By When?

The 3 expectations must also be – Realistic, Understandable, Measurable, Believable and Attainable (RUMBA).

The amount of detail provided for these Objectives/Goals/Results will depend on the maturity of the person in the specific job (function).

And that’s it!