How to Write a Job Description

John Krautzel
Posted by in Career Advice

A good job description lets potential employees know exactly what the job entails so that they know what they're getting in to. While it's impossible to include everything, incorporating certain pieces of information means you'll get the candidates that you need.

A good job description should state the job title at the beginning, with the salary expectations. A lot of people ignore jobs that advertise "competitive" salaries as that's often a euphemism for "low." In addition, it means that people know what you're potentially offering before they even apply, and those who want much higher salaries than you can offer are put off.

Naturally, a job description should include a description of the job. Traditionally, the description should detail who the applicant will be reporting to, a short summary of the job expectations, major key performance indicators that the applicant will be expected to adhere to and a brief list of qualifications.

The qualifications should be as specific as possible to ensure that your applicants know exactly what they need. Clearly separate necessary requirements from desirable requirements as, particularly in small industries, not all applicants will have every desirable requirement. Make sure that the person your applicant will be reporting to gives input in all of this.

In competitive industries, the job benefits are important, although vacation time, sick leave, pension schemes, discounts and subsidized catering are fairly standard. Highlight anything that's unusual or unique, however, particularly if you're in a tech-heavy area. All of this should be under 500 words, so try to keep it reasonably brief.

Perhaps the most important piece of information in a job description is to clarify exactly how you want applicants to respond, but include that at the bottom. In addition, if you request that applicants contact you by email, set out exactly how they should format the subject line. This ensures that you can immediately discard anyone who hasn't read the instructions properly, saving you a lot of time.

When sorting through the job applications, a number of companies use keyword software, but that's not always ideal, as not everyone includes exactly the same information in the same sort of way. Look through potentially qualifying applications yourself to build up an idea of the sort of applicant who is applying. If you're getting a lot of irrelevant applications, consider modifying your job description to eliminate typical irrelevant applicants. In addition, you might consider raising the salary if you're only attracting underqualified applicants.

Ultimately, a good job description is a piece of advertising that catches your ideal applicant's eye. It needs to include all the job benefits, from salary to working conditions, and a comprehensive list of various requirements. It should be unique for each position, be approved by the potential line manager and detail exactly what the applicant needs to know.


Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Mercer F.
    Mercer F.

    Another important factor is informing an applicant if safty gear is required and if so is the employer willing to help pay for it.Like I applied for a position that required steel-toed boots and safty glasses.No problem,but I wear glasses and wearing plastic ones on top of them caused blurring so I need to buy prescription lenses.That with the boots is costing me $200.00 so I can start.Some help would be greatly appreciated as my first pay would all go for that.

  • Brian Murphy
    Brian Murphy

    Nancy, you have a good point. As a Sr. Manager Call Center Operations I wrote all of the job descriptions. HR had no clue what is needed.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    The issue that I have seen, with job descriptions, is that HR doesn't really know what is needed and they aren't being given enough direction by the hiring manager. The hiring manager is the one who should write up the job descriptions since they know exactly what is needed and what they need. In addition, I have seen job descriptions change many times for the same job. What happens is that a manager interviews a candidate and realizes - oh yes I needed X and Y skills also - so they change the job description again. Makes it very frustrating for a job seeker.

  • Sakina M.
    Sakina M.

    write briefly and give exat details

Jobs to Watch