This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
A job description explains the work duties and requirements of positions within your company. Once created, a job description can be published on a job board to attract top talent and used as an internal employment document to clarify job duties and performance expectations for current employees.
Our job description template serves as a customizable document to help specify job duties and requirements. You can download the template and customize it by adding your logo and company-specific details.
Step 1: Prepare an Outline
If you’re using a job description as a way to advertise an open position to job seekers or internally for clarification and to set expectations, you’ll want to make it thorough and accurate. Although concise, a job description will have a lot of information, so first gather all the data you will need and prepare a brief outline. The following sections should be part of your job description:
- Snapshot: Provides a quick look at the position
- About Us: Describes your company culture and employment brand
- About You: Paints a picture of your ideal candidate, i.e., required skills and job duties
- Compensation: Provides an hourly rate or salary range to help job seekers determine whether what you’re paying is in line with what they’re expecting
- How to Apply: Instructions that explain where and how to apply such as to send an email with their resume or fill out an online application on your careers page
- Disclaimer: A non-discrimination disclaimer that reminds job prospects that your business doesn’t discriminate and is in compliance with federal and state labor laws
Step 2: Start With a Position Overview
At the top of your job description, and specifically in a job ad, you should include an overview of the position. This section may list the following:
- Job Title: The job title used in your HR/payroll system, i.e., Sr. Accounting Associate
- Job Classification: Clarify whether the job is exempt or nonexempt as well as if it’s full- or part-time; i.e., Full-Time Exempt
- Job Location: Display whether a job is in an office or remote; i.e., St. Louis, Missouri
- Compensation: Provide the salary or hourly rate for this position. For salaried positions, it is recommended that you list either the actual compensation for the position or a salary range; i.e., $35,000 – $45,000
- Reports To: List the job title of the direct supervisor and/or their name; i.e., Susan Smith, Finance Manager
- Potential Hire Date: Notify job seekers when you plan to hire someone to fill this position; i.e., Accepting resumes through Jan. 15, 2022
Step 3: Include Company & Culture
The About Us section should 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 in the About Us section are:
- What your company does and why it matters (your mission and vision)
- How many people work there
- What your company values are
- What the company culture and teamwork are like
- Any industry accolades or impressive stats relating to growth
This section should be limited to three to five sentences. While job seekers are interested in the type of company they are applying for, most want to get to the meat of the job description where it describes the type of work they will be doing.
Step 4: List Job Requirements
Think about what the day-to-day responsibilities are and then note those responsibilities in a list. Consider what the main goals are that the job holder is responsible for. What are the basic functions? What might their day-to-day life look like on the job? These are all items that should be listed in your job description.
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 less likely that your job posting will attract people with the specific talents you require. That’s why you should map out the job in detail. Get specific about what the new hire will be required to do.
For example, some duties and responsibilities for a bookkeeping assistant might include:
- Deposits daily check run at the bank
- Provides daily ledger balance report to management
- Approves all expense requests within two business days
Skills & Experience
Once you list the responsibilities of the position, you’ll need to think about the skills and experience that a candidate needs to succeed in that role. 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 necessary.
For example, here is what one might list for an accounts payable clerk:
- Must have a GED/ high school diploma
- Must have 3+ years’ experience in QuickBooks, including using it daily for work in most recent role
- Must be familiar with working in a small business and/or working directly for the CEO
- Must be punctual, efficient, accurate, and willing to take criticism
- Associate degree or bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is preferred
- Candidates with more experience may be preferred to candidates with more education
- A+ candidates will also be collaborative, team players, and willing to get the job done
Notice that some of these are must-haves and others are preferred. This provides you flexibility in hiring but also puts job seekers on notice that other candidates may be more qualified.
You may want to add a paragraph at the bottom of your About You section detailing what the ideal candidate looks like in terms of skills and experiences. For example, you might add:
The ideal accounts payable clerk will be advanced in their knowledge of QuickBooks with an ability to create meaningful management reports, and have an associate degree or higher in accounting. They should also be able to work under pressure in fast-paced situations with tight deadlines while maintaining a friendly disposition and good internal customer service.
Avoid the following mistakes when writing your job descriptions:
- Failing to include relevant details, such as physical requirements (like the ability to stand, lift, or speak English)
- Using industry jargon in the job description
- Failing to include a job duties statement such as “other duties as assigned by the manager”
Step 5: Touch on Compensation
In general, postings with the salary or salary range 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, as well as your competitors seeking the same positions. Posting a salary will let you show that.
If you aren’t comfortable posting an exact salary, 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 to $80,000.
Tip: If you need help coming up with the appropriate salary for a new position, go online and check salary data that’s available to the public, such as on job and company review sites like Glassdoor. Or use salary comparison tools provided by Indeed and others. They can help you get an idea of how much your perfect candidate may require in compensation.
Introduce Your Company Benefits
As part of the compensation package, you will want to include the benefits your company offers. Most job seekers take into consideration a total compensation package that includes both the salary and benefits they will receive. Some things you can include in this section:
- Healthcare: Mention whether your company offers medical benefits, dental, vision, or a combination thereof.
- Retirement: Include any retirement benefits you offer, such as 401(k), pensions, stock options, etc.
- Paid Time Off: While you don’t have to include everything you offer, the job description is a great place to let candidates know they will receive two weeks off plus holidays.
Step 6: Notify Candidates How to Apply
Let job seekers know how you would like them to apply. This can be done by having the candidate send a cover letter and their resume to a dedicated email address, like email@example.com, or by requiring the candidate to complete an employment application.
In fact, many recruiting software can store resumes in their database and often let you set up screening questions for candidates to answer as part of the application process. This will make filtering through the stack of resumes easier, as you can immediately set aside those who do not meet specific criteria, such as years of service or experience with a specific software program.
Step 7: End With a Disclaimer
Every job description should have a non-discrimination disclaimer at the bottom. This will show that you are an equal opportunity employer and abide by federal and state laws.
Some common language for a disclaimer may include:
ABC Company is an equal opportunity employer committed to hiring diverse employees. ABC Company does not discriminate against any employee regardless of race, age, sex, origin, or disability.
Internal vs External Job Descriptions
Most businesses use job descriptions for one of two reasons: internally to clarify job roles for existing employees and externally to clarify the minimum requirements, skills, and experience needed so that qualified job seekers are encouraged to apply for your open positions. Each requires different information to be included in the job description.
What to Include in Job Description
Internal Use Only
Can be generic, i.e., Admin. Asst.
Should be specific, i.e., Administrative Assistant to the Finance VP
Hours or Schedule (i.e., Full or part-time)
Employment Status (i.e., Employee, Contractor, Commission-Only, Exempt, Non-exempt)
Reports To (i.e., Name and Title of Supervisor)
Required Skills and Experience
(i.e., pay range)
How to Apply
Publish Your Job Description
Once you have created your job description, it is time to publish it. We recommend for internal use that you store the job descriptions in a searchable location, such as on your network or in G Suite. This will allow you to easily find the job description when you are ready to hire. It is also a good idea to keep job descriptions for each position in your firm. This will allow employees to refer back to their job descriptions for clarification of their responsibilities. For external use, it is recommended that you publish to a job board or social media account.
Once you have your job descriptions stored, you can publish them to a job board when you need to hire a new employee. If you have a careers page on your website, you can promote open jobs by linking them to the relevant job description; some job boards, like ZipRecruiter, will automatically publish to your website. The real power is in using a job board that allows you to screen candidates based on requirements listed within the job description, such as years of experience or skills.
Some popular job boards include:
Your ad will be posted on ZipRecruiter and 100+ other job boards. Offers applicant tracking technology to make the hiring process a breeze. Pricing starts at $16 per job post per day.
One of the most popular job boards among job seekers, it offers free unlimited job posting where you can accept and manage hundreds of job applications in one account.
A mobile job posting site that makes it easy for applicants to find your job description from anywhere and apply quickly. While pricier than ZipRecruiter, at $279 per month, it does offer a free 4-day trial.
Acts as an applicant tracking system (ATS) to assist you throughout the hiring process, and posts your job to 29 job boards, including Indeed and ZipRecruiter. This platform is free and allows you to post unlimited jobs.
A great job description serves multiple purposes—it clarifies the job role, outlines required education, experience, and skills, and touches on company culture. Equally important, a good job description can be modified into a job ad, and it can help you hire even passive candidates (those not actively seeking a job).