Write effective job descriptions and postings
Read time: 4 minutes
The Canadian business landscape is being reshaped by large-scale demographic changes a BDC study shows.
As baby boomers retire, fewer people are entering the workforce to replace those who are leaving. This is making it harder for business owners to hire skilled workers.
In this context, positioning yourself as an employer of choice is more important than ever. Part of this process includes making a good first impression by writing compelling job postings that will attract the most qualified candidates to your business.
Start by developing clear job descriptions
The first step to creating an effective job posting is developing a clear job description. A complete job description contains a title for the job or work assignment, and the following information:
- Work outcomes—What is the employee expected to produce, or what tasks is the employee expected to perform?)
- Work processes—How is the work to be done, and with whom does the employee work
- The equipment or tools to be used
- The work environment
- Employee requirements—The skills, knowledge, abilities and other attributes the employee needs to perform the work
Job descriptions have many uses
Job descriptions are very useful tools within your company. They're useful for identifying different-level jobs and charting a logical employee progression from one job to another (when you are developing career paths within your company). They can also help you evaluate the worth of job (assessing the salary range of the position) and identify job hazards or risks.
Other uses of job descriptions include:
- Assessing the organization of the work or work flow
- Creating advertising for the job vacancy
- Testing the qualifications of applicants to the position
- Developing staff training objectives and content
- Appraising your employee's performance
Developing a job description
To develop a job description, you can use observation; interviews with the incumbent or with key people within the company; and questionnaires (when interviewing is not possible).
Make thorough notes, then sit down and write a draft job description. Review it, edit it and try to cut it down to no more than three pages. Most job descriptions are one to two pages. Circulate the job description to the person already in that role (if there is one) and to key people in the company. Ask them if they think it is an accurate description of the job and modify accordingly.
5 things to include in a job posting
Once you are satisfied that it is complete and accurate, you are ready to write a job posting based on the job description.
An effective job posting has five parts:
1. Job title
Put the title of the job in bold. Make sure the job title is understood by everyone in your industry, and try to avoid using a job title that is unique to your own company.
2. Company description
Write a short "lead" paragraph at the beginning of the ad to tell the reader why you are a good company to work for. You might include your values, mission or vision. Has your company won an award recently? Is it recognized as an excellent place to work? Blow your own horn!
3. A summary of the role and expectations
Describe the responsibilities of the role. Summarize the most important parts of the job description: The handful of tasks that are most important and have to be successfully carried out.
4. A list of the most important qualifications required
Before you write this section, ask yourself and other key people in your company: "Who is our ideal candidate?" Collect these attributes and qualifications, check them against the job description you have prepared and list them in priority order. You won't have room to list them all, so just list the most important qualifications.
5. How to apply for the job
Clearly state in the posting how applicants can apply for the job. State what items you want to receive (such as a resume, references or other relevant documents), whether you want people to apply in person, via a specific web portal or by email. If you don't want phone calls, clearly state: "No phone calls please," in the ad. Give a deadline date and time by which you want to receive the documents.