Job descriptions | The ultimate guide

Andrew Fennell Andrew Fennell

Whether you are recruiting staff or looking for a job, it’s important that you understand job descriptions.

Job descriptions (or JDs as they are sometimes called) are crucial documents that help employees and employers understand what is expected of them both during an employment term.

This guide will explain everything you need to know about job descriptions, whether you are a job seeker, recruiter, business owner or HR professional.

 

This guide contains…

 

What is a job description?

A job description is a written document which describes the purpose and responsibilities of a particular job, along with the skills and experience that a candidate would need in order to carry out the job successfully.

Job descriptions are created by employers and shared with candidates during the application process, and kept by employees for the duration of their time in that job.

Job description

 

What is the purpose of a job description?

Job descriptions have several functions which assist businesses, candidates and employees, during the applications process and the duration of the job, including:

  • Providing potential candidates and employees with a full understanding of who they will be working for and the main job responsibilities
  • Showing candidates the skills, experience and qualifications needed to be successful in the role
  • Giving recruiters a detailed brief of which type of candidates to approach when recruiting for the job
  • Allowing HR staff and business management to define the job duties, so that new hires can be integrated into the team efficiently and work is disturbed properly across the business with no overlap or gaps
  • Providing a benchmark for management to measure the employee’s performance
  • Providing a vital reference document for HR or management in cases of employee disputes

 

Benefits of a good job description include;

  • Improved recruitment process and quality of new hires
  • Improved employee satisfaction
  • Improved staff performance
  • Reduction in staff turnover

 

Negative impacts of a poor job description include;

  • Fragmented recruitment process and poor quality of new hires
  • Employees becoming confused about what their responsibilities are
  • Poor staff performance
  • Increased staff turnover

 

Who writes job descriptions?

Job descriptions will usually be written by a staff member of the employer’s company, but could also be written by an external consultancy.

The following people within an organisation would normally be responsible for writing job descriptions;

  • Business owners: In small companies of around 1 – 5 staff, the owner of the business will often write the job descriptions
  • Hiring managers: In larger companies, there will usually be a head-of-department for the particular area who are hiring, and that person will be known as the hiring manager
  • HR professionals: If a company has a Human Resources department, then it’s possible that a member of the HR team will be responsible for recruitment functions, including the writing of JDs
  • Recruiters: Some companies will have internal recruitment teams who sit outside of HR, and are responsible for managing the recruitment of all employees for the company.

 

How to write a job description

Writing a good job description is essential for attracting and maintaining good staff.

Although job descriptions will vary slightly depending on the job and company, there are a few guidelines you should stick to when writing one, if you want to get the best results.

 

Format and structure

A job description should be a text document, ideally written with a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, and saved as a non-editable PDF before sharing.

The document should be around one page of A4 in length and written with a clear font, and broken up into clear sections with bold headings and bullet points for ease of reading.

The colour scheme can differ depending on your company branding, but should remain simple – you may also want to include a company logo at the top.

To ensure all the essential information is included, follow the structure below as closely as possible…

Job description format and structure

 

Job title

Head the top of the page with the job title in large bold font – keep it short, simple and easy for all to understand.

Quick tip: Avoid gimmicky job titles like “marketing ninja” or “finance guru” – they aren’t cool, and they might make candidates doubt the credibility of your company. Instead use a commonly searched job title like “marketing manager” to stay professional and ensure your job ads get plenty of search traffic.

Job description - job title

 

Company details

Provide a brief overview of your organisation, including what services or products they offer, what markets you operate in, and who your customers are. You can also add some details on the company culture and history.

Job description - about company

 

Job summary

A brief summary of the job’s main purpose and how they fit into the bigger picture of the organisation’s operations.

Job description - job summary

 

Department and reporting lines

In larger companies you may need to add a further 1-2 sentences to explain which department the role sits within, and what the function of that department is. In all cases you will need to outline who the job holder will be reporting to (who their line manager will be)

 

Job responsibilities

List out the core responsibilities of the job in around 6 – 10 concise bullet points. This points will vary greatly depending on the job, but will include things like; who the employee will communicate, what processes they will manage, what work they will produce, and what results they might be accountable for.

Smaller companies will tend to list more responsibilities than large ones, because their roles will often cross multiple functions (e.g. a junior sales person in a company of 3 staff could also have some administration and marketing responsibilities because the company is not large enough to have an admin and marketing department)

Larger companies will often have smaller lists of responsibilities, because having more staff allows them to have more defined roles, and employees will not normally need to assist the firm outside of their own department.

Job description - responsibilities

 

Expectations and commitments

Detail the commitments required to the role, such as work hours, part-time/full-time, perm/contract and workplace location. Highlight anything that falls outside of normal job expectations, such as travel, overtime, and working evenings or weekends.

Job description - commitments

 

Candidate requirements

Outline the requirements that a candidate must meet to be considered for the job and perform well in it. This should include;

  • Hard skills such as software proficiency, languages, industry specific skills etc.
  • Soft skills such as communication, attention to detail, problem solving etc.
  • Previous experience within industries, working with certain customers or locations etc.
  • Qualifications including academic and vocational courses

Job description - requirements

 

Call to action

At the very bottom of the page, add a brief note which encourages suitable candidates to apply and how to do so, including a contact name and email address they can send their CV to

This section is only for the benefit of potential candidates who see the job description before they apply for the job. This is likely only to be internal candidates or referrals, as most candidates will apply for the job via an online job advert, before interacting with the recruiter/hiring manager, and being sent the job spec.

However, if you are copying your job description copy into your online job adverts, all applicants will be able to see this info.

Job description - call to action

 

Should you include salary?

Whether or not you choose to include salary or salary range in your job description (and job adverts) is entirely optional and will depend on your recruitment strategy.

Some companies choose not to include a salary range to keep their options open and discuss salary with candidates further down the line… Others advertise high salaries in an attempt to attract a larger number of applicants… And there are many more strategies in between those two, so if you’re unsure, then discuss with your team or do some research online and decide what is best for your organisation.

 

Common job description mistakes to avoid

When writing a job description, avoid these common mistakes which could attract the wrong candidates, provide poor guidance to employees, or even break employment laws.

 

Discrimination

Jobs should only be awarded on merit via the candidate’s skills, knowledge and experience, and your job description should reflect this.

UK employment law (and many other countries) prevent employers from discriminating against potential employees on the grounds of personal characteristics like:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Marital status
  • Gender
  • Health
  • Disability
  • Religion

This can sometimes be done unintentionally, for example writing “handyman” or “young graduates” could just be a slip of the keyboard, so triple check that no parts of your job description appear discriminatory before putting it to use.

 

Using jargon

Using too many jargon terms or overdoing the “corporate speak” can confuse and annoy candidates, meaning less applications for your role.

For  example, writing  something like…

“looking for a digital guru to shape our vision and growth hack us beyond our KPIs”

Doesn’t make any sense to most people… Especially those at junior level.

Keep the language simple and professional to deliver the clearest message to all.

 

Including too many responsibilities

Having an endless responsibility list will overwhelm candidates and make for a horrible reading experience.

If you find yourself going over 10 bullet points, then you may find that you are listing tasks rather than responsibilities. Try to think about the bigger picture of the role, and the functions and results the employee will be responsible for, rather than the smaller tasks they will be carrying out.

 

How to make a job description more appealing

Aside from the guidelines above, there are a few more tips you can use to make your job descriptions more appealing and attract more of the right candidates…

  • Write as if you are talking to a real person (which you will be): Most job descriptions are impersonal, cold and boring. Of course, you have to keep it professional, but try to add a splash of personality and connect with readers
  • Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes: If you want to write a job description that will excite candidates and encourage them to apply, think about what potential candidates would want to know about the role, and what elements of the role would interest them most.
  • Speak to current employees: If you are hiring into an established team then asking current team members about the role will help you to define it properly and ensure the job description is accurate.

 

Can my employer change my job description?

Job responsibilities often change over time as the way we work evolves, and slight adjustments to job descriptions are to be expected (this is something that can be covered in the responsibilities section of a JD).

However, a sudden drastic change to a job description (such as turning an accountant into a taxi driver) is not acceptable.

Any major changes in an employees job duties must be discussed and agreed prior to commencing.

 

Job description examples

Here are a few job description examples for a range of professions and industries, to give you an idea of how a job description should look, and the type of information it should include..

Search the site for further examples, our browse our job description example page.

There are also templates you can download for free beneath the example section.

 

Project manager job description example

Project manager |The IT project company 

 

About us

At ITPC we deliver word class project management services to high profile clients across the globe, with a focus on IT infrastructure solutions to the banking and insurance sectors.

 

About the role

We are looking for a project manager to lead large scale IT infrastructure projects for our clients, and ensure they are completed on time and within budget, whilst delivering all project objectives and exceeding client expectations – reporting to the Head of UK Projects

 

Responsibilities

  • Determining initial scope of project and setting milestones, deliverables and objectives in accordance with stakeholder requirements
  • Mapping requirements of internal resources and securing capable project teams
  • Cost forecasting and optimal allocation of resources and budget across projects, making project adjustments and constraints where necessary
  • Plan and schedule projects and tasks, track progress and updates project documents using project management tools
  • Identify, manage and mitigate project risks and issues
  • Regular communication, reporting and progress updates to stakeholders
  • Recruiting and managing contractors, vendors suppliers and other external parties
  • Managing and allocations all internal resources and ensuring deliverables and milestones are met

 

Location & commitments

  • Permanent full time role based at our London office Monday – Friday (37 hours per week) with regular onsite client visits
  • Overtime may be required to ensure client projects are delivered on time
  • Weekend work is rare but can occasionally be necessary

 

Candidate requirements

Essential

  • Previous experience leading large projects in professional environments and managing senior stakeholders
  • Competence in creating project documentation, tracking projects and using project management tools such as MS Project
  • Ability to manage medium sized teams, contractors, vendors and suppliers across remote locations
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills, leadership, problem solving, budgeting and mediation abilities

Preferred

  • Recognised project management qualification such as Prince2 or PMP
  • Strong knowledge of, or background in IT infrastructure

 

Contact us to apply

If you’d like to apply for this role, please contact our project team recruiter, Mike Edmund at mike.edmund@itpc.com

Attach your CV and tell us why you would be a great fit for our project management team!

Find average salaries, skills, requirements, qualifications and more on our full project manager job description guide.

 

Sales assistant job description example

Shopzy is looking for a Sales assistant 

 

Who we are

At Shopzy, we are a fun caring brand, looking to deliver the very best in ethical fashion to our millennial customers of all backgrounds and lifestyle choices

 

What you’ll be doing

We need a talented and friendly sales assistant to help our in-store customers find the best products for their needs and ensure an amazing customer experience, whilst boosting sales and repeat business for the store – reporting to the shop manager.

You will be responsible for…

  • Ensuring customers receive an outstanding customer experience, by meeting-and-greeting and answering product questions attentively on shop floor
  • Maintain optimal stock levels by assisting in stock checks and ordering stock from head office
  • Assessing customer needs and recommending suitable products
  • Promoting product offers and shop loyalty card to generate repeat business from customers
  • Keeping shop safe and attractive to customers by with regular checks, tidying and assisting with visual merchandising
  • Processing customer transactions at the counter, dealing with refunds and handling complaints
  • Opening and closing of shop including balancing of cash registers

 

What we need from you

  • Part time role offering flexible hours (minimum 10 hours per week)
  • Based in our lively Manchester shop – occasional cover in nearby shops may be required
  • Weekend and evening work is highly likely

 

What skills & experience you’ll bring to us

  • Excellent face-to-face communication skills and a willingness to go the extra mile to make our customers smile
  • A good grasp of basic mathematics and English language
  • A high level of patience and the ability to work in a busy and sometimes pressurised environment
  • Ideally you will have experience working in a customer facing role within a retail environment, but this is not essential
  • Basic GCSEs are helpful but not mandatory

 

Want to apply? Get in touch today

If you think you’ve got what it takes to join our passionate and fun-loving team, drop us an email at recruitment@shopzy.com, attach your CV and tell us why you’d love to work here.

Find sales assistant average salaries, skills, requirements, qualifications and more on our full sales assistant job description guide.

 

Account manager job description example

Account manager – DL Car Rental 

 

Our vision

We strive to remain Europe’s leading car and van rental provider by offering the highest quality vehicles to our customers, market leading service and insurance provision at affordable prices.

 

The role

We are looking for an account manager to manage a portfolio of existing UK corporate clients, foster strong relationships, manage service provision and maximise sales opportunities within all accounts.

Key responsibilities

  • Initiate regular meetings with key account contacts to strengthen relationships and assess ongoing client needs
  • Act as main point of contact for client queries and complaints, in order to resolve efficiently
  • Map out quarterly plans for key accounts, identifying opportunities of poor performance and areas prime for growth – identify key client staff to contact and develop accounts
  • Grow revenue streams within client accounts via cross-selling and up-selling on existing plans
  • Stay up-to-date with all new products and services and update clients accordingly
  • Generate sales forecasts and track progress throughout each quarter
  • Develop win-win solutions for both company and client via effective contract negotiation
  • Monitor client service provision to ensure customer satisfaction and efficiency

 

Job details

Permanent role 35 hours per week Overtime required as necessary
Full-time Reading office Occasional travel for client visits required
Monday to Friday Reports to: UK sales manager  

 

Key skills and experience required

  • Previous experience in a client facing sales role in a B2B environment
  • Proven track record of building relationships and closing revenue-generating deals
  • Ability to communicate with senior stakeholders at executive and C-level
  • Strong abilities in negotiation, networking, persuasion, presentation and time management
  • Experience managing service provision to B2B customers
  • Previous experience in corporate care rental is preferred but not essential

 

How to apply

If you would like to apply for this role, please send your CV to our UK sales team leader Gary Ince – g.ince@dlcars.com explaining your suitability and availability.

Find account manager average salaries, skills, requirements, qualifications and more on our full account manager job description guide

 

Job description templates

Our job description templates provide you with fully formatted downloadable text documents, with guidance notes for creating your own professional and effective job descriptions.

Simply download one that suits the style of your organisation, fill out the details needed for your job (using our example job descriptions for inspiration if you need to)

Then, save your job description as a non-editable PDF before distributing to the job market.

 

Basic job description template

Basic job description template

 

Tech firm job description template

Tech firm job description template

 

Corporate job description template

Corporate job description template

 

Writing a job description

Writing a job description can be challenging, but armed with the advice and resources above, you should be able to create a clearly defined job description which attracts quality candidates, keeps them focused and happy, and retains them with your company for a long time.