How to write a good job descriptionBy David Allen,

I would like to start off this blog post with a shameless plug for the Client Resource Hub found on the Snelling website.

This is where we help employers understand the ways that today’s companies acquire, cultivate and retain talent. Want to learn how to avoid worker misclassification lawsuits?   Visit the Client Resource Hub.  Want to better understand co-employment issues or learn to write an employee satisfaction survey?  Visit the Client Resource Hub.  Want to learn how to write an effective job description?  Visit the Client Resource Hub – after you finish reading this blog.

No matter what I write about job descriptions, I will not be able to address everything in 600-700 words (the average length of these weekly blogs).  So if you want more in-depth information on the subjects that are introduced in these blogs, visit our Client Resource Hub.

Ok, shameless plug over…now on to job descriptions.

The importance of a well-written job description cannot be understated.  If you currently have an open job, pull out its job description and read it.  Can you picture the perfect person for that job?  If not, then you will need to rewrite it.

But how?  Well, an effective job description should include:

  • Job title
  • Job summary
  • Type of employment
  • List of all duties or critical tasks
  • Reporting hierarchy and location
  • Job qualifications and requirements
  • Pay range for that position
  • Contact information

In addition, it should be clear, concise, and understandable (this means free of all grammatical errors, jargon and litigious-leaning language).

If you would like more detailed information, read (again, shameless plug) our article Writing Effective Job Descriptions.

But now, let’s talk about the bigger issue…why is the job description so important?  You are going to get 1000+ applications anyway, right?  So why kill yourself creating the perfect job description if you are just going to be inundated with sub-par applicants?

I understand your reasoning, but let me point something else out to you. Your job description is your biggest and best sales pitch to the candidate pool; it is the first thing that they will read that tells them why they should apply for your open position.  In much the same way that applicants try to sell you on their work ethic, strong skill sets, and achievements, you have to sell the applicant on why your company would be a great one to work for.  According to CareerBuilder, 75% of job seekers are influenced to apply (or not apply) by the look and feel of a job posting.

This influence is surprising when you consider one other statistic from CareerBuilder – that the average job seeker spends less than 30 seconds reviewing a job posting.  This means that a decision to apply or not to apply takes about the same amount of time to watch a commercial during a primetime TV show.

Don’t be too shocked.  It is 5x longer than the average recruiter takes to decides whether or not to cull a person from the applicant pool.  According to a study conducted by, recruiters spend only about 6 seconds reviewing a resume before making an initial “fit/no fit” decision.

Think about it, and the irony will become clear.  We, as hiring managers, require a compelling resume but, many times, we throw a sorry-excuse-of-job-description out to the public-at-large.

This is wrong, because at the heart of everything, we are making a sales pitch to all possible job candidates out there.  Yes, unqualified candidates will apply.  Yes, we will get resumes from people who apply to everything, because they think “what the heck”.  But, by not creating a compelling, comprehensive, descriptive job description (see the connection?), you are only guaranteeing yourself a much lower number of quality applications and a much longer hiring process.

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.