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10 Tips for Writing Great Job Descriptions

written by: •edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 9/14/2011

Writing great job descriptions seems easy, right? Often, it can be more involved than you think--especially if you want to cover all the aspects of the job to obtain some great candidates. Learn here the top 10 tips for writing job descriptions that will make this task easier.

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    The Importance of Job Descriptions

    Job Descriptions are Important A job description is used for a number of reasons. They can be to find great candidates for a position you have open, fine-tuning job duties, the creation of a new position, or keeping you legally safe from employee lawsuits.

    Disgruntled or injured employees will and do look to their job description (as will attorneys and government agencies) if a dispute arises, so you really need to cover all the basics to keep your company safe.

    Learning the ins and outs of writing job descriptions is something you must learn, no matter whether you’re using them to recruit, retrain, or stay on the legal side of employment law.

    As Entrepreneur Magazine online states on job descriptions, “these steps may seem unnecessary, but remember, you are laying the foundations for your personnel policy, which will be essential as your company grows."

    Below, you’ll find our 10 top tips on how to write job descriptions with ease.

    Image Credit (MorgueFile)

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    1. What’s In a Name?

    First off, never be vague about the job title. If it’s for an administrative assistant, say so—don’t say “clerical." Be consistent with the job titles within your company. If you have departmental supervisors, don’t suddenly switch and call a job a department manager. It’s best to determine (and make a list of) all the jobs you need when you start your business and keep the job titles uniform. As new positions come, make sure those job titles fit within the ones you already have.

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    2. Who’s the Boss?

    Next, you should clearly state whom the person will report to. Be specific such as District Manager; however, avoid using names of managers in case those managers change.

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    3. State Education Requirements

    Employment Titles It’s best to keep this requirement near the top when writing job descriptions. If a possible candidate sees your company wants a Bachelor’s Degree, it can weed out the unwanted.

    Image Credit (MorgueFile)

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    4. Experience Needed

    If you want a prospective employee to have certain experience make sure that’s stated clearly in your job description. For example, if a person must possess 2-4 years of actual or similar experience, state that. Also, indicate here if you are willing to train the right candidate for a position in lieu of experience.

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    5. Qualifications & Skills

    If there are specific qualifications or skills necessary for your open position, say so. They should include things such as managerial experience, IT knowledge, computer experience, knowledge of a certain software, etc. Be as specific as you can be to help find the right candidate.

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    6. The Duties

    Job Duties The job description you write should be broad on the duties the potential employee will perform—no matter what level of employee. If you are looking for a manager, list exactly what you want that manager to do first and then put that list in that part of your job description. Remember to include everything you expect that person to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis as needed.

    Image Credit (MorgueFile)

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    7. Job Class / Actual Work Methods

    Job classes and methods are key elements of your job descriptions. Here you should clearly outline if the person will be lifting, bending, sitting, etc., and how much and for how long. Many entrepreneurs leave this section out of a job description and later find out a person may not be physically capable to perform the job. Include this in all your job descriptions.

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    8. Salary Range

    Always include a salary range with the words “depending upon experience." This will give you leeway in the event you hire an entry level employee that may not have all the education, qualifications, and experience you need.

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    9. Job Type

    List whether the job is full or part time or a temporary position. For all job types, list work hours expected; i.e. Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, or for a temporary position—needed for holiday season from October 1st to December 31st.

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    10. Review Job Descriptions Frequently

    Review Job Descriptions On this list of 10 tips for writing job descriptions, perhaps tip 10 should be tip 1! As your company grows, so will your human resource department, and the managers you rely on to write those job descriptions may change. In order to keep your job descriptions uniform, you need to review them often (annually if you can, based on the size of your business) and make sure they all conform to the same outline and standards.

    Image Credit (FreeDigitalPhotos)

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    At the End of the Day...

    Following these top 10 tips on how to write a job description will ensure you not only gain a list of qualified candidates but will keep you safe in the long run as far as duties expected and the methods utilized to complete the jobs you have to offer.

    Please be sure to check out the other tips and strategies found in Bright Hub's HR Guide for Recruiting and Retaining Employees.