So you have been following our series on how to hire and manage and decided that you want to hire a full time employee to fill a position. Great! The first step is to learn how to write a job description, the topic of today’s article. So let’s get started!
Step 1: Make a list of the position’s duties and responsibilities.
One of the mistakes that small business owners often make when learning how to write a job description, is not outlining in detail what the day to day of the new employee will look like. This makes it hard to identify the right candidate for the job, and makes it less likely that your job posting will attract people with the specific talents you require.
So think about what the day to day responsibilities of the new employee will be and then put those responsibilities down in a list.
Step 2: List the skills and experience needed to get the job done.
To make this list the most effective for your job description, you want to order it from most important to least important. An easy way to do this is to separate the skills and experience that an employee has to have to even be considered for the position, from those that would be nice to have, but not absolutely necessary.
Step 3: List any other important factors such as the type of personality you are looking for, and how they will be working (9-5, heavy supervision, flexible work hours etc)
In some companies and departments like outside sales, a loud aggressive personality may be just what you are looking for. In others like software and IT adding an aggressive personality to the team is generally a bad idea. Other questions you want to ask when thinking about how to write a job description are:
- Will this person be working independently or as part of a team?
- How much flexibility do they have in how the job is done?
- Do you need someone who can simply follow instructions or someone that can operate with little supervision?
- How does doing this job in your company differ from doing a similar job at other companies?
Step 4: Decide How Much To Offer
Studies have shown that as long as you are paying a fair salary, money is not a good motivation tool for employees. So the best idea when writing a job description is to offer a fair salary, but find another way to motivate your employees. For more on the problems with using money to motivate and what you should use instead, see the below video by Dan Pink.
Where should you post the job? We recommend using Indeed.
So how do you come up with a fair salary? The first thing you want to think about here is how much experience you need the person to have. Are you willing to pay extra to get someone who can come in and hit the ground running? Would you rather pay a lower salary and train someone with less experience?
Once you have thought about this you want to see what data is publicly available that can help you get an idea of how much your perfect candidate may require in compensation. Brad Farris from Enmast.com has a great video on exactly how to do this, as well as some other great tips on how to write a job description, which you can find here.
Below is my summary of that video, which uses an interactive project manager in Chicago as an example :
- Search Google for “Interactive Project Manager Salary Range + Chicago”. Look for industry salary surveys.
- What are the trade associations that these types of people might be a member of. Search for their name + salary data.
- Talk to other business owners and ask them what they are paying for jobs like this. Be sure you talk about the specific duties of the person so you make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
- Go to the advanced search on Careerbuilder.com, search for the job title there and then select “show only those with salary info”
- Use this cost of living calculator to adjust the salary levels you find for similar positions to your location.
Two things I would add to this are:
- Make sure the salary you are offering is fair within the context of what you are paying other people in your organization, to both the potential hire and existing employees.
- If there are competitors that you know have similar positions, you may be able to see what they are paying using Glassdoor.com.
From this you should be able to come up with a salary range. You want this to be a fairly wide range so you get a nice mixture and can see what applicants look like on both the high and low end of the range.
Step 5: Write the job description.
Now you have all the information you need to write the perfect job description. Here is how it should be broken down:
Job Title: Be as specific as possible with the title. For example, let’s say you are a plumbing supply company that sells to businesses in the North East and are seeking a sales manager. A bad job description title for this role would be “Sales Manager”. A better title would be “North East Regional B2B Sales Manager – Plumbing Supplies”.
About Us: Clearly and concisely outline what your company does and why someone would want to work there. Some things you may want to consider including here are:
- What your company does and how big it is
- Your mission statement
- Any impressive stats relating to growth
- What your company values are.
This section should be 3 to 5 sentences max.
Position Details: The below quote is also from Brad Farris at Enmast.com and I think its a great overview of what you want the end result of your job description to look like.“Write a compelling job posting highlighting the challenges and opportunities that a successful candidate would face. Position the job as hard work, but rewarding — then sell the opportunity with your company. Positioning the job this way attracts more engaged candidates who want to make a difference, exactly the kind of people who make great employees.”
Here are some other things to consider including from another great article on the topic from Jobscore.com.
- Why is the job open? If it’s for a good reason (i.e. growth, someone was promoted, big new customer win) definitely say so.
- Opportunity: Are you going to train this person? Do they get to work with a great boss? Will they develop leading edge skills? Is there something unique or special about this team? Is this a growth area of the company? Is this working on a project of special significance? Does the job pay exceptionally well?
- Lifestyle: How many hours will they need to work? Will they have to travel? Will they get to hire or manage other people? What are their days going to be like doing this job?
- Team style: What are the common attributes of the top performers on your team? Do you share common interests? Are you morning people or night owls? Procrastinators or planners? Softball or Scrabble?
Required Skills: Go back to the list you made in step 2 and list the top 3 to 5 skills that the candidate must possess to even be considered for the job here.
Bonus Skills: The things from step 2 which are not required but would be a nice bonus if the candidate possessed them.
Further Instructions: Let them know how you would like them to apply. Another tip from Brad Farris that I like for this section is to ask for a cover letter which addresses some specific point. This will make filtering through the stack of resumes easier, as you can immediately discard those who do not address that point.
Where should you post the job? We recommend using Indeed.
That’s our lesson for today. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Also be sure to stay tuned for the next lesson in this series, where we will discuss where to advertise your job posting.
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