5 Tips for Drafting Position Descriptions

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Home > Blog > 5 Tips for Drafting Position Descriptions

Position descriptions are used both externally (for job postings) and internally (for managing an organisation’s operations). While it is not expected that a job description will be an exhaustive list of responsibilities, it is important to ensure that the description offers a wide-ranging overview of potential tasks to ensure that the job seeker knows what may be expected of them as well as covering the employer in case there are performance management issues. On top of giving the candidate a sense of what is expected of them, a job description should offer a high-level summary of who they will be reporting to, any of their direct reports, travel expectations (if any) and anything else that may be expected of them outside of an ordinary working arrangement.

It can be tricky to fit all of the above into something that is succinct and exciting enough to attract the right candidates in Cairns, so we have put together five tips on how to write the perfect job description.

1. Inclusions and exclusions

At the very least you need to include:

  • The position title, preferably one that will garner the most attention when searched on a job-posting site or LinkedIn. Avoid trying to make it sound unique or over/under exaggerate the position as it may get lost amongst the other job listings or deter candidates from applying;
  • A role summary that provides an overview of the types of projects or day-to-day work the candidate will be involved in and how they will assist the wider team in its operations. This is not the key responsibilities; it should sound how the employee would personally describe what their job is if they were asked;
  • A little bit about the organisation and even the team to give the candidate a sense of the culture. If they will be working autonomously, this should also be expressed as it could be make or break for some candidates;
  • Key responsibilities, which are the tasks the candidate will definitely be carrying out in the role. It is important to describe the most important, non-negotiable, KPI-type of responsibilities, working your way down to expectations that come up less often, or that the candidate may only have a hand in; and
  • Essential selection criteria that the ideal candidate must possess. This may include a Bachelor degree, diploma or certificate in the required field. Other examples include things like a first-aid certificate, a driver’s licence or a Blue Card

2. Avoid using checklists

A 2014 study by Hewlett Packard taught us that women will not apply for a job unless they are confident they can perform 100% of what would be required of them in the role. Men, on the other hand, are satisfied with only being able to perform 60% of the tasks outlined. By providing a definitive checklist in your job description, you may attract candidates who are overestimating their abilities and deterring those who may be a great fit for the role but do not realise it. Checklists are, of course, appropriate when describing essential selection criteria.

3. Leave some wiggle room

Do not ever imply or allude that the job description is exhaustive. In every role, there are responsibilities that could not be anticipated but that the candidate should reasonably be expected to complete. As an employer, by offering an exhaustive list, you are putting yourself in danger of pushback from the employee if they do not have a team player or can-do attitude.

4. Set yourself up for success

Be honest and realistic. If the job is a boring and monotonous one, you don’t need to say that explicitly, but you also don’t need to sell it as more than it is! By being upfront at the outset you will attract the best candidates for the role and avoid high staff turnover and giving the organisation a poor reputation.

5. Reviewing and updating

Even if there is a loyal and high-performing individual in the role, it is important to review and update job descriptions on a regular basis. Typically, this should be done annually, and it would be wise for this to coincide with annual performance reviews so that if the responsibilities of the employee have changed, the job description can be amended accordingly.

If you need further advice on how to draft position descriptions, get in touch with the team at Preston HR. Our HR Consultants in Cairns can help you with position descriptions specifically for your business.