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Using Job Descriptions to Attract The Right Candidates

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Different corporations have different philosophies towards job descriptions with some subscribing to the notion that these should be very broad and vague leaving maximum leeway for individual flexibility and others preferring highly detailed descriptions which hone down from overall objectives of a specific role to each of the monthly, weekly and daily duties involved.

Whatever degree of detail selected, job descriptions serve an essential function in many key areas of business from recruitment to performance appraisals, compensation and benefits, legal and compliance; and training and development. Here, the recruitment experts at, the Middle East’s #1 job-site, offer some guidance in effective job description drafting techniques. Basic Rules: Whatever format you opt to chose in drafting your company’s job descriptions it is essential that they follow the “Five C’s” and are:

  • Clear and concise with no ambiguous terms
  • Comprehensive with no key category missing
  • Communicated to the people they need to be communicated to
  • Consistent across the organization
  • Clever in the sense that a lot of research and thought has gone into preparing them

Getting Started: Before beginning to draft job descriptions, a certain amount of homework needs to be done both in gaining an intimate understanding of the job itself as well as in coming to grips with the industry’s best practices. Spend a reasonable amount of time asking questions and collecting answers about every facet of the job as it is and as it should be. Look at the history of the role in your organization and its place in the organizational structure and ask if any changes need to be made. Descriptions should evolve to incorporate learnings and suggestions from incumbents, new business requirements, changes in business priorities, changes in organizational structure and changing efficiency guidelines. Moreover, in designing a role it is essential to always consider measures that can be taken to make the position more attractive, competitive, rewarding and productive.

Once you are completely familiar with all aspects of the role, spend some time reading external third party job descriptions to maximize your preparedness for the task ahead. Look in industry journals, HR journals, leading jobsites ( has over 4,500 fresh job posts with job descriptions you can make use of), newspaper classifieds sections, government HR manuals and specialized job description reference books to adopt phrases, ideas and formats that work best for your role and organization. Completing this essential groundwork will help ensure that job descriptions are actually an asset and engine for growth rather than an unnecessary hindrance. Remember that job descriptions should be forward-looking and a work in progress subject to amendment as you analyze how to maximize the attractiveness and productivity of a certain role and not simply a static snap-shot of the job as it is in your organization today.

The Components: Job descriptions should ideally include at a minimum each of the following components:

  • Job title
  • Job Summary
  • Job Responsibilities
  • Reporting Lines
  • Minimum Qualifications/Requirements
  • Job Location
  • Salary and Benefits

Job Title: The job title should accurately and concisely reflect what the position entails. It should reflect both the nature of the work as well as the level or seniority of the role eg. Business Development Manager, Financial Analyst, IT Project Manager, Marketing Manager, Sales Manager. Be careful what titles you choose as different titles entail different responsibilities; for example Office Manager, Secretary, Personal Assistant and Executive Assistant to Chairman are not identical roles. Also be careful that the titles are consistent with the work culture and the organizational structure and that they are compatible with identical roles in the industry.

Job Summary: This is a broad overview of the job parameters and should in no more than three or four sentences summarize the objective, general nature, function and scope of the position as well as the level of the work entailed. You can think of it as the mission statement and goals for the specific role.

Job Responsibilities: This is a description of what the person holding this role will actually do and be accountable for. It should be a clear and concise list of the principal tasks, duties and responsibilities associated with the role and that are critical for the role’s success. In addition to the major tasks, it is very wise to include the non-essential, second tier of tasks and responsibilities that are of lower priority and consume less time but are also an integral part of the job. Be as specific and concise as possible in describing tasks to avoid ambiguity and confusion and try starting sentences with targeted action verbs that detail specific tasks eg “Trains, conducts, checks, leads, analyzes, researches, procures, hires, ensures, sorts, manages etc.” You may want to add a sentence like “Participates in other projects that contribute to the overall objectives of the firm”, or “performs other non-essential functions” to ensure flexibility of the role if/as the need arises.

Reporting Lines: This should indicate clearly who this position reports to and any other important supervisory roles, reporting lines and relationships.

Minimum Qualifications/Requirements: This section should list the minimum requirements needed to perform the job. Education, experience, training, skills, abilities, knowledge; licenses and qualifications all fall under this category. Special characteristics and abilities essential to successful performance on the job should also be noted eg. highly proactive, high levels of motivation, strong desire to succeed, high level of integrity, strong work ethic, ability to work in a team environment, ability to work under pressure, willingness to travel, ability to lead a large team, willingness to relocate etc.

Job Location: The location where the position is to be based should be clearly stated. Travel requirements if any and plans to relocate the job are also helpful.

Salary and Benefits: In order to determine the appropriate salary and benefits you will need to ascertain the value of this role to your business. Salaries by provides employers with the ideal too for industry benchmarking analysis should accompany internal benchmarking as you decide how to grade and compensate this role. Salary surveys such as those published annually by can also be helpful in this exercise. Many companies prefer not to include actual figures for job descriptions used for recruitment purposes and prefer instead to state “salary commensurate with qualifications” or “salary to be discussed during interview”. Leaving the salary field undetermined however may fail to filter out candidates whose expectations are widely divergent from the parameters of the role.

In Conclusion, a clear, concise, precise and well researched job description will help not only at the recruitment stage to ensure full relevance and competence of candidates hired; but also at the day-to-day management and performance appraisal stage. Confusion and ambiguity regarding job role and responsibilities is eliminated once the roles are clearly defined as are costly redundancies and inefficient overlaps. Moreover in many industries regulatory and compliance considerations necessitate the need for clean and clear lines of responsibility and accountability.

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