Definitive guide to writing a job description

Written by on May 8, 2018

Job descriptions are tough. I’ve read many many articles about writing job descriptions but if you were to ask me to write one for my job today, I’d still struggle to do it justice. Over time, I’ve put together a list of articles that I go back to, for inspiration. A list that I use both as inspiration and as a checklist. Here are my favorite top 7 articles on the subject:

One for the ages, this article does a great job of turning the mystical art of writing a job description into a simple 5-step process. No slaying dragons required.

My favorite tip:  A good job title will have the following qualities:

  • It accurately reflects the nature of the job and the duties being performed
  • It reflects its ranking order with other jobs in the company
  • It does not exaggerate the importance of the role
  • It is free of gender or age implications
  • It is generic enough that it can be compared to similar jobs in the industry for the purposes of equity in pay and conditions
  • It is self-explanatory for recruitment purposes (in most online job searches, the job title is the main keyword searched).

Another great listicle, this article piqued my interest because it calls out purple unicorns and laundry-list-like requirements list.

We’re definitely for describing specific tasks and responsibilities (“Creates and promotes content on social media to increase brand presence” is better than “Handles social media”) but you wouldn’t want to overdo it as well.

My favorite tip: “You may want a rock-star-of-all-trades, but settling only for this will hold you back. Make sure your job description is realistic for the role — seeking a creative director who can also write press releases and sell advertising will greatly limit your pool of qualified applicants, especially given the competition for top creative talent today.”

If I had my way, I’d have included the whole article in here – this is a great article with a lot of very useful tips like “Be dynamic” and “Write in second person”.

Highlights: Include accomplishments and not responsibilities. Describe how their performance will be measured so they understand what success in the role looks like, and can self-select accordingly.

This article is very useful because it has a exhaustive requirements section list, that includes physical demands and travel. Use this article as a checklist to make sure your job description has included all the information a candidate needs to know before they apply.

A 5-part blog series by the Senior Customer Success Engineer at Textio, an augmented writing platform for job descriptions and recruiting emails, this is arguably the most exhaustive article in this list.

Allie uses data from Textio to arrive at an optimum content structure – 610 words, 13 words per sentence and so on. But as Allie says herself, just as language changes, so do these numbers. Textio discovered that job seekers reacted better to job ads with shorter sentences towards the end of 2016, than at the beginning.

However, if you’ve ever wondered whether you should bullet or not bullet or how to make your job descriptions more objective, this is the article for you.

As another great article from fitsmallbusiness.com suggests, you can use the Indeed resume search to figure out common phrases, that your ideal job seeker is using, and use them in your job description.

This is a pretty extensive article on the subject, even more so because it includes examples (and section highlights from 20 descriptions drawn from top organizations).

My favorite tip: Include a mission statement and an about us, to hook future employees onto your mission.

“Since 2004, our mission has been connecting people with great local businesses. We’ve fundamentally changed the way consumers make buying decisions by taking word of mouth online. Yelp brings transparency to the local business market, and we believe in helping consumers make smarter and more informed decisions about where to spend their money.”

I love this article because it’s a great story about how Buffer learning to make their job descriptions more diverse and objective. They realized that the reason they weren’t getting as many women applicants as they hoped was for software developer positions was because they were using the word ‘hacker’ in their job titles.

My favorite tip: EVEN IF TITLES DON’T MATTER TO YOU, THEY STILL MATTER


With that, we reach the end of the list. If you’ve read some content pieces on writing job descriptions that stood out or left a deep impression on you, let us know in the comments.

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