Six things you need to include in a job description

Computer keyboard next to print out of a curriculum vitae

If you want to attract employees who are best suited to your specific business needs, the process begins with drawing up a good job description. But what should you include?

Employers aren't legally obliged to create a job description, yet producing one enables you to focus your thinking and decide how the role must contribute to your business and who is likely to fulfil that role.

Writing a job description isn't difficult, but you shouldn't rush, otherwise you risk attracting unsuitable candidates. And with many things in business, it pays to keep things simple and concise. So, what should your job description include?

1. Job title

There should be no room for ambiguity when recruiting - and that starts with your choice of job title. Get it right and potential candidates will have a good idea of what they'll be doing and at what level. Confusing or misleading job titles are likely to attract applications from people with too much or not enough experience - which will only waste your time and theirs. Avoid convoluted or inaccurate job titles - plain English is always best. If in doubt, when it comes to job titles, stick to what is expected for your sector.

2. Main duties

Detail exactly what the successful applicant will be doing. This enables people to decide whether they have the necessary skills, experience and attributes to perform the role successfully. If there might be the occasional need to perform other tasks, be clear about that and provide details. Precision is important. If you're not sure what the post involves, how could anyone else be? If your business is willing to provide training, say so.

3. Role

As well as specifying duties, you should explain how the role must contribute to your business and how it fits in with the wider structure. For example, will the successful candidate be part of a team? Will they head up that team or work under a more senior colleague? Even if they'll largely be working independently, they'll need to know to whom they'll report. Also explain how the role could develop.

4. Location

Will they be based exclusively at your premises? Will they be required to work elsewhere all or some of the time? Might they even be able to work from home when possible? Potential candidates must be told where they'll be working, if they are to decide whether to apply.

5. Remuneration

Some employees will be more "money-motivated" than others, and in some roles (eg sales) this can be a good thing. However, all employees should know how they will be rewarded. As well as stating a basic pay scale (which allows you some room for negotiation), detail any bonuses and benefits you offer.

6. Your business

Potential candidates will want to know when your business was formed; how many employees it has; where it operates; what are its key products/services and markets; whether you've won any awards or comply with any quality management standards (eg Investors in People). They'll also want to get a feel for your culture and aims, to judge whether they can achieve their goals with you and fit in. Use the opportunity to "sell" your business to potential employees. Tell them why they should want to work for you.

Producing a "person specification" can also help you when writing a job advert, interviewing candidates and assessing their suitability. Focus on knowledge, experience and skills a person must have, as well as what you would like them to have (finding an exact match can be impossible, so some flexibility is required).

When thinking about personal attributes, be guided by the requirements of the role - not personal information. Your recruitment process must not discriminate. Successful businesses recruit from as wide a pool of talent as possible.

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