How to: write a stand-out job description

Pic: Wavebreak Media Ltd 123RF

Pic: Wavebreak Media Ltd 123RF

Source: Grapegrower & Winemaker, January 2015, Emilie Reynolds

THERE has been an article circulating the internet recently, which discussed the influx of ridiculous and over-complicated job titles. A lifeguard position had been advertised as a ‘wet leisure attendant’, while a vacant spot in a local school canteen called out for an ‘education centre nourishment consultant’. There had even been a case last year where Naked Wines advertised for the position of ‘customer happiness manager’, exactly what role had the company been filling? Well, it’s all right there in the title.

While it could be easy for employers to embellish job titles to make them sound more appealing and exciting, Jane McNeill, director of Hays in New South Wales, believed a simple approach would be best.

“The job title needs to be written in a way that would attract the interest of candidates in a language that is honest and easy to understand,” she said.

In short, practice saying the proposed title to yourself a few times. If you aren’t clear what it means one you’ve heard it, perhaps it’s time to reign in the creative license.

TAKE TIME TO PREPARE

Researching the job would allow an employer to advertise for the position, not an individual in the position.

“To write a good job description you need to sit down with the hiring manager and firstly establish what duties and responsibilities are involved in the job,” McNeill said. “You should describe both the duties or tasks, as well as the expected outcome or result that the incumbent is required to produce.”

Any training and development offered by the company should be also be assessed by employers and highlighted in the description.

“Candidates should be aware of career development opportunities and pathways that could be open to them,” said McNeill.

BEGIN WITH A DETAILED SUMMARY

McNeill said it was important to be detailed and include every task, no matter how small.

“Do not be tempted to gloss over tasks for fear that they may appear menial; it is important that the job description accurately reflects the reality of the job you are recruiting for and what tasks you need the incumbent to perform,” she said.

“Often job descriptions will include 30 or more tasks, some also include an indication of how much time should be dedicated to each aspect of the role or task.”

Would heavy-lifting be involved? Would they need to operate machinery or attend after hours events? Filling the profile with detail could make it more appealing to potential applicants and Nick Slape, Yalumba People Department manager, said the more interest in the role, the better. “It’s about reaching a wider potential market,” he said. “If someone responds to the advertisement, it gives us an opportunity to engage with that person and expose our brand and style to them.”

LIST THE KSA’S

Better known as knowledge, skills and abilities, this section should make up the bulk of your job description. KSA’s give potential applicants an idea of the level of experience, training and education you’re looking for.

McNeill said the more facts, clarity and context you could provide in the job description, the better.

“List the skills and competencies the incumbent must possess in order to successfully do the job and go into more detail about the position where appropriate,” she said.

Would the position require a university degree? Six years on-the-job experience? Fluency in French? Write the KSA’s carefully and truthfully to avoid disappointment on either side.

BE HONEST

Employers should be open about the position on offer to ensure potential applicants feel confident enough to apply. McNeill said employers should include information about the organisations culture so candidates could consider whether they were a ‘cultural fit’ with the vacant position, and if they would suit the team and the company’s way of operating.

“If the job description will be given to interested job applicants, ensure that the content sits in line with the company’s employment brand,” she said.

“Lastly, if the salary is not included a salary range should be specified as well as an outline of any other benefits.”

WHERE TO START: Draw out a good plan.

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