For the average small business owner, writing a good job description that will bring in talented applicants seems daunting. Fortunately, job descriptions can be easy to write. You just need to know the elements to include, which we explain in this article. Job descriptions also make other HR decisions, such as hiring, firing, and promoting a heck of alot easier (and more legally sound).
In this article, we will provide you with a free job description template and walk you through the different parts of how to write a job description so that you can write one on your own, including:
- Job Title
- About the Company
- Position Details – Job Duties & Responsibilities
- Skills & Experience Required for the Role
- Deciding on a Compensation Range
- Personality Traits that Might Work Best in this Role
- Work Environment for the Position
Onward into our guide on how to write a job description!
Free Job Description Template
Job Title: __________________________________________________________________
This role is: Part Time or Full Time Permanent or Temporary or Contract
We are a company of ____ employees and were founded in _______. Our main business line is (insert main product/ service) and we also have (insert secondary business lines). We like to think of ourselves as a team of (insert 3-5 adjectives that describe your team). We are located at (insert address).
We are seeking a new member of our team in the role of (insert Job Title). We are looking for this person because (insert reason for growth). The biggest perks of this role are (insert 3 great attributes like managing a team, training, etc…). The biggest challenge of this role will be to (insert a challenge such as organizing a new team or restructuring a client base). The current team around this role is made up of (insert team positions) and reports to our (insert manager). The team in general describes themselves as (insert 3 adjectives to describe this specific team).
Does this sound like you? Great, read on!
Duties & Responsibilities:
- Insert list of day-to-day job responsibilities
Skills & Experience Required:
- Insert what kind of degree (if any) that you require.
- Insert how many years of experience the role requires
- Insert any combination of experience you will accept in lieu of a formal education.
- Insert the list you made earlier
Compensation Package: Salary, benefits, bonuses/ commissions, PTO, etc.. should all be listed here.
If you are interested in applying to this role, please provide a cover letter and resume to:
(insert email address or other way to apply)
Note: For other sections you might want to consider in your job description, keep reading on. You could include sections on personality and the work environment, but you’ll want to check our our guidelines below first.
What to Include in Your Job Description to Get the Best Applicants
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.” Also, right beneath the title, specify the type of role this will be.
North East Regional B2B Sales Manager – Plumbing Supplies
This is a full time, permanent role with potential for growth.
Clearly and concisely outline what your company does and why someone would want to work there. Remember, a job applicant who is considering your business is also likely considering some of your competitors, and you want to stand out. Some things you may want to consider including here are:
- What your company does and how many people work there
- Your mission statement
- Any impressive stats relating to growth
- What your company values are
- What the company culture or team is like
This section should be 3 to 5 sentences max.
One of the mistakes that small business owners often make when writing a job description is not outlining in detail what the day-to-day responsibilities of the 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. Moreover, it attracts the wrong candidates to apply to your posting as well.
Think about what the day-to-day responsibilities of the new employee will be and then put those responsibilities down in a list. Think about the main goals the employee will be responsible for and what his or her day-to-day life might look like. Are there daily tasks? Weekly tasks? Monthly reports? Team meetings where s/he will need to present?
Some good examples of duties & responsibilities include:
- Performs daily check run to bank
- Provides daily ledger balance report to management
- Approves all expense requests
Notice how specific they are; try to do that for your responsibilities as well.
Skills & Experience
Once you list the responsibilities of the position, you’ll need to think about the skills and experience that will be needed to succeed. 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 are not absolutely necessary.
For example, here is what one might write for an Accounts Payable Clerk (note the must-haves and the preferred/nice-to-haves):
- Candidate must have a GED/ high school diploma.
- Candidate must have 3+ years experience in Quickbooks, including using it daily for work in most recent role.
- Candidate needs to be familiar with working for a small business and working directly for the CEO.
- Must be punctual, efficient, accurate, and willing to take criticism.
- An Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or related field is preferred.
- A candidate with more experience may be preferred to a candidate with more education.
- A+ candidates will also be collaborative, a team player, and be willing to get the job done, even if that means extra hours.
Creating a profile of the ideal candidate can also be useful in a posting.
For example: The ideal Accounts Payable Clerk candidate will be advanced in their knowledge of Quickbooks, have an Associate’s degree or above in Accounting, be able to work under pressure in fast-paced situations, and be fluent in using Quickbooks to create meaningful reports for management.
Deciding on a Compensation Range
In general, postings with the salary range included tend to get more traffic than those with nothing listed. Simply put, you need to be playing in the same compensation ballpark as your applicants, and your competitors seeking the same positions, and posting a salary will let you do that.
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?
Resources That Can Help You Determine Compensation Range
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.
Check out the following for salary data based on industry and position:
Some products they offer require a fee; however, if you are hiring several of the same position in the same city, this valuable data could be worth it for it to be accurate.
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 the summary of that video, which uses an Interactive Project Manager role in Chicago as an example :
- Search Google for “Interactive Project Manager Salary Range + Chicago”. Look for industry salary surveys.
- Look to 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.
A few things we 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 or PayScale.com, as we mentioned above.
- You can also post queries to groups in LinkedIn; just be sure that you are comfortable with whatever you are posting being public fodder.
From this you should be able to come up with a salary range. A sound range would reflect a 25-30% difference between the lowest and highest points, such as $60,000-80,000. However, if you do not intend to pay anyone, regardless of skill set, the top number, then adjust in order to prevent miscommunications and applicant disappointment.
Also, remember to include any bonuses, such as employer-paid health insurance premiums, matching retirement benefits, commission plans, PTO, or other value-added perks to this section since they are part of compensation.
Next Steps for the Applicant
Let them know how you would like them to apply; having a dedicated email address for application is usually the easiest route, like firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may want to ask applicants for a cover letter, or for an employment application form, which addresses some specific point or asks a specific question the answer to which will help you weed out the good candidates from the bad candidates. This will make filtering through the stack of resumes easier, as you can immediately discard those who do not address that point.
Optional Sections: Personality Traits and Work Environment
Person-Organization fit is a theory that shows personality does matter in the hiring process. Southwest Airlines is a famous example of a company that practices this and truly looks for personality that aligns with the company’s culture and values.
What kind of personality are you looking for in this role? A heads-down introvert who can roll with the punches or a bubbly extrovert who speaks up? Adding in some desired personality traits to your job description can help enlighten your applicants to what you are looking for on a deeper level, saving everyone time and bringing you the right applicants!
Consider the following questions regarding the work environment section of your job description:
- 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?
- What kind of employee works best under the current manager for this role?
Combined with personality traits, the work environment is a great section to include in your job description to shed even more light into which applicants would be a great fit.
Now that you are able to write a job description, you are ready to recruit applicants. Indeed is a free job board where you can post your job description and get applicants.