Smart Job Description Writing Secrets

Employee turnover is costing millions of dollars in losses. Fact: Costs to replace an employee is often twice the existing employee’s annual salary. Smart job description writing may be the unsung hero of small business sustainability. Few companies put proper time and effort into such an important tasks. Even fewer companies use the job descriptions once they are created. Master the art of job description writing. ¬†Become the employee retention hero in your organization. Everyone is obsessing about saving pennies on paper clips. You can save thousands by recruiting and retaining top talent.

Start with Values

The job description writing process is an important part of keeping the type of talent you want. This summary of requirements needed to be successful at a specific job helps both the job applicant and small business operator.  It helps by keeping each other focused, honest, and accountable. Proper job description writing starts with an examination of your mission, vision, and value statements within your organization. Success requires a study of the culture of your organization. Success in job description writing also focuses on the specific department in which the new hire will work. Simple but deliberate steps in preparation for writing the job description will help you to produce a quality recruiting tool.

Respect the Process

Smart job description writing requires thoughtful reflection. Choose your words carefully. Consider the classic who, what, when, where, how, and why process we all learned in grade school English Literature class. “Who” relates to the culture of your organization. “What” relates to the task to be done. “When” often can be addressed with required hours of work required. Is the job a night shift or maybe as needed basis? “Where and How” can be answered with whether a job can be filled with a person working from remote locations or maybe how much travel is involved. “Why” might be the most important of all. The “why” section is where you sell your company. “Why” section is where you sell the benefits of your company culture, the rewards of the job, prestige, recognition, etc.

Must Haves

Certain points must be covered by any job description. Obvious tasks like job title, required skills, list of tasks are self-explanatory. Other important items might not be so obvious. If a listing is an internal job description, not used for recruiting, then consider including key performance indicators in your description. K.P.I.s are tried and tested methods by which to hold both the boss and the employee accountable for required tasks. Mindtools.com maintains an excellent section for details of K.P.I. usage. Be sure to include the chain of command or supervisory process. It is important for a new hire or candidate to understand who is responsible for delegation and leadership.

Watch your Language

In professional circles, words mean things. We can assume that if a business leader cannot or will not use proper language in a job description then that leader lacks commitment to excellence other areas of the organization.
  • Avoid vague terms like “often”, “some”, “hot”, “cold”, “milk toast”.
  • In an age of overly sensitive bias, avoid terms which designate gender like “he” or “sir”.
  • Be wary of inadvertent hints to political or other personal affiliation with words like “blessed” or slang terms like “y’all”.
Avoiding using descriptive terms like “he” or “she” is getting annoying. If someone is offended by the use of terms then that is not likely someone who would fit in on my team. Unless you are running a steakhouse in Western Texas, using “y’all” is not flattering. Avoiding such local slang simply shows that your organization has a higher social intelligence quotient It shows awareness of the outside world. Ok, ok, let’s be fair. “Milk toast” is not something you will likely see in a job description. I put it in there for my own entertainment. What is milk toast? That is a term used to describe a person or attitude which is bland, soft, mushy, and useless.

Bonus Job Description Writing Secret

When conducting job description writing, study the culture of your organization closely. If the description is meant to be used as an external recruiting tool then breathe life into the summary. Start by selling the finer points of the job, the location, the brand, the fun. Give the facts and the boring data as required but find a way to give it meaning to the ideal candidate. Put some effort into job description processes. Smart processes for writing descriptions is to enjoy the journey of discovery. Business leaders who do write job descriptions correctly often discovery many things about the organization which went previously unknown. Do it right and you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.
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