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Published: Apr 19, 2024 7 min read

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A job description is a summary that outlines the responsibilities and required qualifications of a role, while also providing job seekers with insight into the company’s culture.

Understanding how to write an effective job description is crucial for employers and hiring managers seeking to attract qualified candidates, streamline recruitment processes and ensure new hires are a good fit.

Whether you post the description on sites like ZipRecruiter, one of the largest and best job search sites for employers, or share it within your network, mastering the art of crafting job descriptions can result in higher-quality hires, improved employee retention rates, and, ultimately, enhanced success for your company.

Read on to learn how to write a good job description and position your business for success.

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What is the point of a job description?

A good job description attracts applicants. In competitive markets, job seekers aren’t just looking for a paycheck; they desire a position that aligns with their personal and professional aspirations.

When you write a good description, you offer job seekers an overview of four key elements:

  1. Benefits
  2. Qualifications
  3. Responsibilities
  4. Company Culture

Once you have the job description and post it online, ZipRecruiter can help you sort, review, and rate your candidates. The marketplace learns from your ratings and sends you similar applicants to the ones you liked.

Here’s how to write a good job description, step by step:

Step 1: Write a job title and summary

A job title and summary are the initial hooks for potential candidates. By being specific about the role in the title and summarizing the position's nature and required skills, you entice candidates to click on the job posting and learn more about the opportunity.

For example, if a Data Scientist is interested in a leadership position, they’ll want to learn more about a “Lead Data Scientist” role. You can further explain what the role entails in the section on duties and responsibilities. But for now, focus on being direct.

Meanwhile, the summary outlines the primary responsibilities of the role and how it will impact the company. Follow this explainer with a brief description of the company’s goals and how the individual in this role will contribute to achieving them.

Additionally, address the summary directly to the potential candidate, as it adds a personalized touch.

  • “As the Lead Data Scientist, you will be responsible for [main responsibility] to [achieve this goal].”

Step 2: Include duties and responsibilities

Many job descriptions fall short when listing duties and responsibilities by either being too vague or overwhelming candidates with an exhaustive list. To address this, use concise bullet points that highlight the action. For example, instead of stating "Create reports," for a data scientist, it’s more effective to phrase it as "Generate comprehensive reports that effectively communicate findings.”

Additionally, it is important to prioritize the list, placing the most important tasks at the top. This gives candidates a clear understanding of the tasks that will occupy most of their time. Furthermore, detailing how each task impacts the organization helps candidates see how their efforts align with company objectives.

For leadership positions, it’s essential to outline duties and responsibilities specific to leading. This may include tasks such as assigning work, training others and evaluating performance.

Step 3: List qualifications

After outlining the responsibilities, it’s crucial to clearly communicate the qualifications required for the job.

Using a bulleted list of requirements works well in this section as it allows candidates to quickly assess their eligibility. You should also arrange the qualifications from most to least important and be specific about any degree requirements if they are critical knowledge needed for the role.

Other knowledge or skill requirements include:

  • Years of practical experience
  • Experience using a specific software or platform
  • Experience working on certain projects
  • Skills such as attention to detail, strong organization skills or effective multi-tasker

If there are qualifications that are desirable but not mandatory, you can include them in a separate section titled "Preferred Qualifications." For example, knowledge of specific software or experience with a particular platform.

For this subsection, use phrases such as:

  • “Strong knowledge of…”
  • “Experience with…”

Step 4: Mention salary and benefits

Including a salary range and benefits package is key for attracting qualified candidates, as it signals that your company values fair compensation and prioritizes employee satisfaction.

When specifying the salary range, ensure it is competitive with industry standards for similar positions. Additionally, be transparent about any bonuses or performance-based incentives available.

Regarding benefits, it’s important to highlight offerings that are highly valued by candidates, such as healthcare insurance, retirement plans and paid time off. Additionally, spotlight any unique perks like:

  • Remote work arrangements
  • Dental and vision coverage
  • Flexible working schedule
  • Catered lunches
  • Office snacks

Step 5: Describe your company

Conclude the job description with a brief company profile, including the location of your headquarters. Offer applicants an overview of your company's identity, brand and culture. This section is an ideal opportunity to share company achievements, the services you offer or notable partnerships.

Take this opportunity to have fun and engage with potential candidates in this section. If the job seeker has reached this point, they're likely interested in the position. Write this section as if you were speaking directly to an ideal candidate, using it as a call to action to inspire them to apply.

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Summary of Money’s How to Write a Job Description

  • Write a job title that describes the role
  • Use a bulleted list to share the core responsibilities
  • List the qualifications, both in terms of education and experience
  • Add a short list of preferred qualifications to attract your ideal candidate
  • Include the salary range, key benefits and unique perks to entice top talent
  • Conclude your job description by highlighting your company’s identity, brand and culture