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How to make a Job description

A job description is a summary of important details of a specific vacancy or position within a business. It explains the remit of the role (eg types of work involved and responsibilities), any requirements for applicants (eg skills, experience and qualifications) and the benefits (eg salary and other staff perks).

Writing a job specification helps ensure that only the most suitable and qualified candidates apply for a position. This reduces time spent on filtering applications by management and HR. It also helps existing employees who are moving to a different role within a business understand their new roles and responsibilities.

Use this job description:

  • when you're advertising for a new member of staff
  • if you're expanding your workforce or replacing employees who are moving on
  • to clarify the requirements for a new position
  • to ensure you are advertising a position in accordance with best practice

Find out more about hiring employees.

This job specification covers:

  • job title, job description and responsibilities
  • skill and qualification requirements
  • day to day responsibilities of the role
  • days and hours of work
  • salary and staff benefits
  • application process

Employees and candidates

Preparing comprehensive and accurate job descriptions is a crucial part of the recruitment process. Both internal and external candidates will need to understand the requirements of the role. As well as providing relevant details of work responsibilities, a job description can help to attract new talent to your organisation, as part of an overall job advertisement.

Managers

A job description is also helpful for line managers. This is especially true if they are new or not directly responsible for recruiting new staff members. In this scenario, a job description can help the line manager to pick the right person for the job. It can also help managers to evaluate the performance of an employee and gauge if they have met expectations.

There are no specific requirements for a job description. However, it often includes the following:

  • the main purpose of the role
  • responsibilities of the job holder
  • any required skills and qualifications
  • days, hours and location of work - and if there are any flexible working opportunities
  • salary and other benefits (pension schemes, company car etc)
  • who the job holder will report to
  • details of how to apply for the job

Discrimination

To comply with employment law, you must ensure that nothing in a job description (and any other job advertisement materials) can be considered discriminatory. The Equality Act 2010 sets out certain protected characteristics, including age, disability, sex and race. For more information, read Equal opportunities and discrimination.

In general, any protected characteristics should not be taken into account in the selection process of a candidate. Further, a job description should not imply that any of these characteristics contribute to the selection criteria, either directly or indirectly. 

For example, phrases like 'youthful go-getter' or 'mature experienced' should be avoided when describing an ideal candidate, as they could constitute age discrimination. However, if there is a 'genuine occupational requirement' (eg a young black male actor being required to play the role of a young black male character in a theatre production) this can be included in a job description.

Terminology

Avoid the use of internal terminology and acronyms when preparing a job spec. Remember that the candidates reading the job description will not be familiar with business-specific terms, unless you are recruiting internally.

Many of the terms contained in a job description will form the basis of the Employment contract. However, in order to allow room for negotiation, it's a good idea to keep the terms open and flexible. For example, you can include a pay range (rather than a specific salary) and if you have several offices, you can state that the employee may need to work from any of those locations. 

If any contract terms differ from those in the job spec, these need to be clearly pointed out before the contract is signed. You may want to include a clause in the job description, stating that terms may change.

Ask a lawyer if:

  • you are looking for a company director
  • you are searching for a business partner
  • you are advertising a position that will be primarily based outside England, Wales or Scotland

Other names for Job description

Job description template, Job specification, JD, Job posting template, Role description, Job spec, Job spec template.

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