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Wednesday, 11 January 2012 16:35

How to Write a Job Description that Will Get Qualified Candidates

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How to Write a Job Description that Will Get Qualified Candidates

By Amy Hengst

Writing a job description isn't the most glamorous duty of a human resources professional, but writing a good description can boost your work culture, improve a department's productivity and help the organization meet its goals. Recruiting qualified candidates takes insight into the everyday duties of the position as well as the relationships the incumbent will develop with his or her colleagues and managers.

The HR department can gain an accurate understanding of the job requirements by hiring an experienced job analyst or by conducting an evaluation in-house. Analyzing a job can involve interviewing managers, colleagues and the outgoing employee, and it may also require some time watching the person perform the duties of the position.

It's essential to give candidates an honest, detailed description of all aspects of the position and organization. Sugar-coating or hyping a job may seem attractive, but it may not get the best candidates to apply. If candidates are too highly qualified, they might get bored after a few months and leave — and if they're underqualified, they won't succeed.

Job descriptions should include the following essential information:

  • Job title: This should be accurate to the level of the position and comparable to others in the industry.
  • Role within the organization: List the department and the job's role within the department. The candidate should also understand the direction of the company, its business and what role the job plays in contributing to the organization.
  • Working relationships: Include the title of the manager the position reports to and which colleagues he or she will work closely with. In addition, mention the size of the department and whether he or she will work independently or within a close-knit group.
  • Summary of the job description: List the main duties of the job and what percentage of time is expected to be dedicated to each. This will help candidates prepare to meet your expectations.
  • Relevant experience and competencies: Include the number of years of experience you expect the candidate to have had. Specify prerequisite positions and skill sets. Candidates who don't meet these requirements will be discouraged from applying, while qualified candidates will recognize that you're serious about looking for experienced candidates. It's often helpful to specify that candidates who do not meet the minimum qualifications need not apply; this tends to scare off the highly unqualified candidates and will cut down on wasted time going through their resumes.
  • Special working conditions: Specify whether the person is expected to work odd hours, be on-call or work in sensitive environments. Mention if any physical duties are required, such as the ability to lift a certain amount of weight, drive certain vehicles on the job or use special tools or machinery. Also, specify qualifications such as a commercial driver's license or a clean driving record.
  • Certifications or memberships: If applicable, state a preference for candidates who have a certification related to the field or membership in a professional or trade organization.
  • Benefits: In addition to telling your candidates what to expect from the job, you can add information that will attract candidates. Job development opportunities such as training or travel, challenging assignments or career-advancement potential can attract stellar candidates who are interested not just in getting a job, but in making a wise career move. Other perks or benefits relating to work culture may also seem attractive, such as the ability to dress informally, work remotely or take advantage of commuter discounts offered by the company.

The job description should give a clear explanation of each of these factors so candidates can determine whether or not they are qualified to apply for the position, as well as whether it appeals to their work preferences and requirements. By including additional descriptions of the qualities you would like the candidate to have, or personal qualities of others within the department (such as creative, organized, outgoing or independent), you can give the candidate an idea of what to expect from his or her co-workers or whether he or she will personally fit in with the team. Remember, qualified candidates are more than just a series of descriptors and abilities — they are dynamic individuals who should add to a team and make a vital contribution to the organization.

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