Compelling position descriptions (PDs) are necessary to support and enhance strategic and progressive recruitment processes. In today’s competitive environment, job seekers can be more selective in the opportunities they explore. When scanning a position description, potential candidates quickly assess the details of the role but are also interested in an organization’s culture and growth opportunities. In addition to making a position description stand out, it is very important to make it inclusive so that people with diverse skillsets and backgrounds are encouraged to apply. An inclusive position description helps to set the stage for a fair and thorough recruiting process.
Here are six items that should be included in a PD:
1. Specific Title
While it is important for hiring managers and potential candidates to be flexible and expect a role to evolve, it is also important to paint an accurate picture of the role. Rather than using a general title such as “Manager” or “Director,” organizations should specify what the role is, which will better illustrate how it impacts the organization.
2. Objective or Summary of Purpose
High-performing candidates are usually strategic in their job searches and want to understand the function of the role. Provide a brief overview of principal duties and responsibilities. Consider what success looks like for the role and use that to define some short- and long-term goals, including what challenges the new employee may be asked to address.
3. Working Relationships
Who will the new employee supervise? To whom will they report, and with which other internal departments, outside agencies, or key stakeholders will the person collaborate on a regular basis? This information, while it can seem detailed, is important to depict day-to-day interaction and to demonstrate to the candidate that the organization has a clear sense of how the role fits into the existing structure.
4. Organization’s (brief) Bio
In many position descriptions, organizations devote the most words to who they are rather than to who interesting candidates may be. It is recommended to include the history, mission, vision and/or goals of an institution within one short paragraph. Include a link to the company website and company LinkedIn page for applicants to learn more.
Also, add the primary location of the organization and where the new employee will be located. It can be helpful to include some information about the surrounding area and its attractions if candidates outside of the region are considering relocation. If the role is remote or expected to be a hybrid role with some remote workdays, state that in the description.
5. The Perks
Why would a candidate want to apply and interview for this role over many others? What are some perks or advantages the organization offers? Examples include tuition reimbursement or tuition exchange at a college or university, premium health and wellness benefits, 401k or other retirement account match, bonus structure, free parking, commuter credits, regularly catered meals, or even a kitchen stocked with drinks and snacks.
Listing a position's minimum qualifications and preferred qualifications separately is beneficial because it can expand the talent pool. The position description will appeal to candidates who possess the minimum qualifications and may have the potential to expand their capabilities.
Don’t forget writing style!
Here are some pro tips for how to word your PD:
- Use verbs to describe duties and responsibilities.
- Specify frequency of duties with “weekly” or “monthly” (instead of “occasionally” or “sometimes”).
- Quantify responsibilities (instead of “several” or “many”).
- Choose non-industry-specific language such as “end users and customers” (instead of “students and faculty”).
- Use un-biased language regarding gender, background, and qualifications of potential candidates.
- Consult a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion professional for assistance.
- Keep the requirements broad; narrow the responsibilities of the role.
- Clearly state what experience is transferrable to encourage applicants from other venues and industries.
After considering the above recommendations, read part two of this series on how to leverage the time invested in producing position descriptions to place recruitment ads. And remember, you can always ask a Helbling search consultant
for feedback on your position description.