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Job descriptions are often overlooked and undervalued, but they are a vital document for establishing a common understanding of each job and communicating organisational expectations.

They are also the basis for other HR activities such as job evaluation and market pricing, so they can have a significant negative impact on internal equity and market competitiveness if they are not given the attention they deserve.

Here are my top ten tips to help you write better job descriptions:

  1. Be concise – job descriptions should be written clearly and in as few words as possible so they are easy to read and understand.
  2. Be objective – job descriptions should be based on facts, not assumptions.
  3. About the job, not the person – always focus on the job, not the person or people doing the job, as this may cloud your judgement.
  4. Be informed – speak to stakeholders, including the job holder or holders (no one knows a job better than the person or people doing the job).
  5. No acronyms or abbreviations – avoid using acronyms or abbreviations that others may not understand.
  6. Be consistent – use an agreed template and ensure all job descriptions are reviewed for consistency.
  7. Regularly review – to ensure job descriptions are kept as up to date as possible they should be reviewed regularly such as when a job changes or when you recruit.
  8. Keep the job purpose brief – the job purpose section should explain in one or two sentences exactly what the job’s unique contribution is (think of it like an elevator pitch for the job).
  9. Focus on outcomes, not tasks – the main accountabilities section should focus on outcomes because all jobs should exist to achieve end results, not to complete tasks.
  10. Be specific, clear and descriptive – the knowledge, skills and experience section should be specific, clear and descriptive so it is absolutely clear what the requirements of the job are.

If you need support reviewing or preparing job descriptions in your business, get in touch.

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