How to write effective job descriptions: a guide for smaller businesses

 The process of recruiting new staff can be challenging for smaller businesses, especially those with no dedicated HR manager. In this article we’re going to focus on one particular aspect of recruitment – writing job descriptions. We’ll examine why they are important and what they should include, as well as sharing some essential tips to help you attract the right candidates.

Why are job descriptions important?

There are several reasons why you should pay attention to job descriptions:

  • A job description is often the first impression of your business that potential applicants get
  • An accurate job description sets out clear expectations and therefore helps the recruitment process run more smoothly
  • A job description has an important ongoing role as a reference tool for staff appraisals and development
  • A full set of job descriptions for all staff clarifies team structure and responsibilities

What should a job description include?

When writing a job description, you need to make sure that all the key information is included, while at the same time keeping it succinct. Here is a checklist of what to include:

> Job title

It’s really important to get this right; think about whether it accurately reflects the role (+ how it fits into your business structure), but also whether it matches what potential applicants are likely to be searching for online.

> Job summary

This should be a short but persuasive overview describing your business and how this role fits within it. Summarise the objectives of the job and the qualities you’re looking for. This is where you can really sell the job.

> Responsibilities

Set out all of the different areas of responsibility, being as specific as possible (but without getting into too much detail). Your aim here is to define the scope of the job, as well as helping candidates understand what a typical day might look like. Be honest about what’s involved; smaller businesses in particular may require team members who are prepared to be flexible.

> Team structure

Explain how this position fits in with the rest of the team, in terms of both management and key interactions.

> Skills and competences

Write a list of the skills and competences needed for the role. Be realistic (and clear) about what’s absolutely necessary and what’s just desirable. This is the place to stipulate anything that’s non-negotiable (eg must have a driving licence) to avoid potential problems later in the recruitment process.

> Practicalities

Give details about salary, hours, location, holiday entitlement, benefits etc, as well as training/development opportunities, and any extra perks (eg free parking).

Some essential tips

Here are some general dos and don’ts for writing effective job descriptions:

  • Choose your words carefully – avoid jargon or anything potentially discriminatory
  • Aim for a professional but welcoming tone
  • Use headings and bullet points to make it easier to read (remember that many people search on their phones)
  • Check with other staff to make sure that everyone is clear (and agrees on) how the role fits in with the rest of the team
  • Ask someone unrelated to your business to read through the job description, to see if it makes sense to an outsider
If you get stuck – we can help!


As part of our bespoke recruitment service, we’re very happy to advise on job descriptions; we have a good deal of experience in helping clients to define the scope of new roles in particular. Our expertise is in establishing your exact requirements, and then finding the right person for the job. So if you need some help, please get in touch with GO Recruitment today.

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