How to Write a Job Description

Writing a bad job description can attract the wrong job candidates, contribute to high turnover and even get you sued. If you’re writing a job description for the first time, you may not even know where to start. Relax and follow these tips for an effective job description:

Follow an outline. While you can add other things to your job description, make sure you include at least these five items:

1. Title
2. Department
3. Responsibilities
4. Qualifications
5. Preferences

Be specific. Don’t just say that your applicants need “computer skills.” Do they need to know industry-specific programs or just Microsoft Office? How advanced does their knowledge need to be?

Make the responsibilities section as complete as possible. One of the top reasons people quit their jobs is that the job never met their expectation. By accurately describing the job up front, you can reduce your turnover rate.

Know the difference between qualifications and preferences. Qualifications are only the minimum requirements necessary to perform the job, while preferences are the skills you might like to see in a candidate. Be careful about listing your preferences as requirements – the best candidates don’t always fit the predetermined ideal.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Remember that you can find well-written job descriptions on job boards like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com. There’s nothing wrong with using these descriptions as your guide as you write your own.

Don’t discriminate. If you don’t want to get sued, be extremely careful that your job description doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, sex, nationality, religion or disability. If the job does carry with it legitimate physical requirements, spell those out in detail.

Do you have tips for writing a job description? Write them below in the comments!

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