How To Write A Job Description: Best Practices & Examples

Business, career and placement concept - young asian woman smiling and holding resume, while sitting in front of directors during corporate meeting or job interview

Job descriptions are critical of any hiring process that lands you a prime future employee. They provide potential candidates with a clear idea of the job, what is expected from them, and how they will be evaluated for success.

However, the quality is your job description can predict the quality of your new hire. This post will give you some best practices for writing compelling job descriptions that communicate your expectations clearly and effectively.

If you need help hiring new employees, check out Insight Global’s hiring page!

What is a job description?

A job description is a written statement that details an organization’s expectations for a particular position. It should include information about what will be required from the employee to meet their responsibilities and how success will be measured.

Job descriptions are often presented in conjunction with hiring documents like application forms and candidate assessments to select candidates that best fit your company culture and the role.

Writing a practical job description can be difficult because there is no single way to do it right. Every organization will have different expectations and goals, so you’ll need to tailor your job postings accordingly.

Why a job description can make or break your hiring process

Here are three reasons why a job description can make or break your hiring process.

Can attract the right or wrong type of candidates

You need to make sure your job description attracts the right job seeker.

If it’s too generic, then you might attract people who are not qualified for the position or have a different career path in mind. If this is what happens, they’ll either be disappointed once they get into the interview stage and perhaps quit soon after starting–a costly mistake for your company. They could also become unhappy with the position and company culture and spread this negative energy to other employees.

On the other hand, if you focus too much on specific skills or characteristics, you might attract candidates that are not a good fit for your company. This could also mean you might miss out on qualified candidates who don’t meet your specific criteria. At Insight Global, we don’t solely focus on a candidate’s job experience and education. We like to hire solid individuals as a whole, including their personality and somethings you might not see on a resume. This is why even including something like the people you are interested in hiring and the company culture in the job description is important. (More on that later.)

Can speed up or slow down your recruitment process

Writing an effective job description can speed up your recruitment process.

A well-written job description that sets clear expectations for the position will help to reduce time-related bottlenecks in hiring. If you’re struggling to find qualified applicants, then maybe tweaking your job description to give a candidate a clearer understanding of your expectations for the role (and for the candidate themselves) will help speed up the hiring process.

This extends to internships as well as permanent positions. Make sure when writing job descriptions for interns, you add as much detail as possible so interns don’t end up wasting a summer doing a role that turn out to not be interested in.

Can positively or negatively affect turnover rate

Finally, writing a job description can positively or negatively affect your company culture and employee morale due to the company turnover rate.

When employees are unclear about their responsibilities, the expectations of their role, and how they are evaluated for success, it can help them become dedicated to the company and stay for the long haul. This could lead to higher turnover rates which will negatively affect productivity.

However, a strong job description with clear expectations of a role can help weed out anyone who isn’t interested in the job at the beginning of the process–not after they’ve started the job.

What to do before you write your job description

Before you start writing your job description, there are a couple of things you need to do as a company to compile all the information you need to expertly write a job description.

Assess your company’s needs

Assessing your company’s needs will involve investigating what qualifications, skills, and abilities are required to fulfill the role properly. You’ll also need to examine how long it usually takes for new hires to complete tasks or projects so you can set realistic expectations in your job description.

Think about what responsibilities will fall to the new hire. Ask yourself:

  • What is this person going to do on a day-to-day basis?
  • How can they contribute most effectively?
  • What are the hard and soft skills this person will need before starting?
  • What skills should be prepared to teach the new hire?
  • Are leadership skills essential in this position?
  • What type of personal qualities align with our company culture?

Consider the qualities and the crucial skills for this job. Think about what makes a successful candidate stand out from other applicants in this area. Company culture comes into play in this area because it can help you identify these things or give some insight into how they might be demonstrated.

If there’s a team environment at your company, one job specification you’ll want to address is how well candidates work with others. If they need to manage other people, then it’s important that you talk about leadership and management skills. A good hiring manager will be able to pick up on these traits and accurately describe them in a job description.

Evaluate your competitors

If your competitors are attracting more applicants or seeing faster turnaround times, something in their job descriptions might appeal to the audience you are seeking. This could mean it’s worth seeing the way their job descriptions are written and incorporating them into your job descriptions. It is always helpful to research what is working for others and make adjustments accordingly. (You must stay honest and true to your company’s expectations, though–not your competition’s.)

You can also research competitors’ job descriptions to help signify what you don’t want a potential employee to do in their day-to-day basis. Offering employees a similar position as a competitor with slightly less expectations out of the role and more time to complete projects may have candidates want to work for your company over theirs. (Don’t sell yourself short, though. Make sure your job description completely entails what you expect out of a role. Those expectations might just be slightly less than what a competitor expects out of the same role.)

Talk to team members who will be working with the new hire

It’s also a good idea to chat with existing (or former) employees about what is and isn’t working well for attracting qualified applicants, evaluating potential hires, or keeping employees happy.

This information can help you avoid common pitfalls and create a job description that’s fair, realistic, and effective. Does the position need technical skills? Are there specific required responsibilities? Has the role taken on new responsibilities that weren’t on the original job description? Think outside the box.

It is especially helpful to work with the employee leaving the role (due to promotion or another reason) to see if the description you’re planning on writing accurately fits the role’s responsibilities.

Two employees sitting at a computer talking and working together to write a job description

How to write a job description

Now that you have a better idea of what to include in your job description, it’s time to start creating an outline. This will ensure that all aspects are covered, and nothing important is left out in writing a compelling job description. Write down everything you want to cover without worrying too much about how long the description will be. You can always cut things out later if you need to.

Think about what would be most relevant to someone who is reading your job description. You want them to feel excited, not overwhelmed or discouraged by what they are reading. Remember that this is your chance to sell your company and job. Be specific about the position you’re offering, but avoid overloading people with details. It should also address how long someone can expect to be in this position, what is expected of them, and how they can move up within the company.

By keeping these considerations in mind, you’ll create a job description that effectively attracts qualified applicants suitable for the role. You might also find it helpful to look through examples from your industry or other areas where similar types of candidates exist so you can get more ideas on what to include.

It’s important to include these sections in your job description:

  • Job title
  • Job summary
  • Responsibilities and duties
  • Qualifications and skills
  • Salary and Benefits
  • Remote or location-based
  • About us/why work for us section

Let’s look at each of these in more depth.

Job Title

To let people know what they’re applying for before reading more, use this section to create a concise but descriptive title that accurately represents this role. Titles that are too wordy or confusing may turn potential candidates away, as will job titles that are too broad.

For example, adding a title for a role as “Manager” isn’t descriptive enough. “Manager of IT Solutions and Project Development” may be too confusing for what the job responsibilities may actually entail. “IT Project Manger” is the right landing space for a potential title. Think between 2 and 5 words.

Job Summary

In this section, you will write a brief, general overview of the position, and its main responsibilities. You should include:

  • Your company name and what position you’re offering (be specific)
  • What duties and responsibilities will this role have? What are some examples? For management positions, talk about how many people they’ll be managing.
  • What qualifications and skills are needed for this position? What experience is a plus but not necessary?

If it’s temporary or permanent, mention how long someone would be expected to stay in this role.

When Insight Global writes a job description for its staffing partners, we typically include an introduction paragraph for the role followed by more specific bullet points of what the responsibilities and necessary qualifications for the role are.

Here is an example of a job summary posted on Insight Global’s internal job board:

A job description that says: "The Program Manager will be responsible for the oversight and health of a portfolio of projects or programs within Insight Global IT Delivery This role will is responsible for ensuring program delivery meets expectations, including KPIs, SLA/SLOs, milestones, and portfolio goals. This role also includes, but is not limited to, risks/issues tracking, managing/mentoring project managers, financial oversight, and portfolio reporting/leadership reviews."

It doesn’t tell you everything single detail about the role, but it sets clear expectations for the type of person the company is looking for, what the candidate will be doing at the job, an example of a skill needed for the position, and, most importantly, the name of the position.

Responsibilities & duties

You can get more into detail about the day-to-day aspects of the role in the responsibilities section of your job description. You should be as specific as possible about the day-to-day of the job without giving away specific project information away (mainly to competitors). This description can include bullet points that touch on:

  • Who the role reports to and communicates with on a daily basis
  • What types of projects the role handles
  • What type of reports and reviews the role needs to create
  • Who the role supports and what departments the role works with

Try to include at least 7 or 8 and no more than 15 bullet points on what responsibilities the job role has. You want to be descriptive but not overwhelm a candidate.

Qualifications & skills

These can also be listed out in bullet form fashion, like the responsibilities and duties.

Qualifications and skills can come in two forms:

  • Required skills: skills absolutely necessary to complete the job. The job cannot be done starting on day one without these.
  • Desired skills: skills that would compliment your ability to do the job. These are also skills that will may be included in the training of the position or skills candidates should be expected to learn (at a introductory skill level, obviously) within the first couple months of the job.

While every position has a list of absolutely necessary skills they need to complete the job, a candidate having certain desired skills may cut down on training times. You shouldn’t disregard candidates who don’t have the desired skills you wish for, though. You’ll lose plenty of highly qualified candidates if you only look for candidates who have experience will all required and desired skills.

Specific types of qualifications and skills include:

  • Proficiency with certain programs (ex. Microsoft Office, Adobe Suite, WordPress, etc.)
  • Certain abilities to use technology
  • Certifications (ex. Google Analytics, Certified Associate in Project Management, nursing licenses, Certified Public Accountant, etc.)
  • Oral and written capabilities
  • Communication with managers
  • Problem-solving skills

This isn’t anywhere near the full list of qualifications and skills you may need in your job description. This is why it’s important to do full research of what your company needs in a candidate when you write a job description.

Salary & benefits

This section is as important to the prospective employee as the rest of the sections.

The salary for a role and the benefits your company offers should be highlighted in your job description. Setting the salary (or salary range) up front gives the candidate clear expectations for what the role pays annually or hourly. This also helps remove a level of stress and anxiety from the candidate’s side with regard to salary talks later down the road.

Some states require employers to include salary in a job description by law, so make sure you are up-to-date with your state’s and city’s employment laws.

Including both the salary and benefits can also attract quality candidates who believe they are worth what you are paying. Being up front about benefits may attract candidates based on the quality of your benefits. These benefits can range from as simple to healthcare and dental insurance to unlimited paid time off and tuition reimbursement.

Location of the job

Every job description should include the location of the job. In a world where working from home is more and more regular, it’s no longer assumed that every job is accomplished in an office or at a physical space. While it may seem obvious that some jobs require in-person attendance (think of something like a COVID-19 tester–that can’t be done from the tester’s home), be clear in your description the expectations of where the job needs to be completed.

Is the job fully remote? Do you expect employees to go into an office a couple times a week or a couple times a month? Is travel required beyond a basic daily commute? Is the job full-time in an office or on-location? Define where the job is conducted.

An employee is working from home, smiling and looking away from the computer. Employee is wearing a headset and working at a white desk.

Length of the job

In addition to where the job is completed, also be clear about how long the job is needed. Not every job is a permanent full-time job requiring 40 hours per week. Some other types of employment include:

  • Part-time work: a job that requires less than full-time commitment, usually anywhere between 5 and 25 hours per week
  • Contract work/Temporary work: a job that is required and completed in a certain amount of time, and employment is ended after the contract or time period is up
  • Contract-to-permanent work: some jobs are offered starting as a contract, but then employees are offered permanent full-time employment at the end of the contract if the employer wants to bring the employee on. Think of the contract phase of this type of employment as a tryout, both for you as an employee and for the role within the company you are working for

Stay true to what you say in your job description, too. Don’t hire someone as a full-time hourly worker, then a month in, try to slash how often or how long someone works. This will affect future candidates applying for this position, especially if word starts to spread that your job descriptions aren’t true.

About us/why work for us section

This is another section to expand on what’s special about your company and this specific role. Why should someone want to work for you over the other options in their job search?

Your “About us” section can include basic company history and talk about what industry the company serves, but it can also dig deeper into company culture and what the company believes in.

6 Bonus tips for writing effective job descriptions

While everything in the previous section is vital for a job description, there are some other tips and tricks you can do to optimize your job description to reach the widest audience and attract the best candidates.

Optimize your job titles for SEO

What keywords would someone type into Google to find this kind of position? Use those keywords to optimize the number of people who see your job description.

There are plenty of free keyword search tools out there for you to use, including Google Search Console, Rank Tracker, and Keyword Everywhere.

Be clear and concise

As we highlighted in the previous section, you need to be as descriptive as possible in your job description. Make sure those descriptions are clear and concise, too. No one wants to read through a 1,000-word job description, nor do they want to read through overly clunky paragraphs.

Simple formatting like including headers and bullet point helps present your job description with clarity. Not repeating expectations in multiple sections of your job description helps keep it concise.

Ensure diversity and inclusion

It’s helpful to mention if you have a diverse team already on staff and are looking to expand the team. It gives people an idea of what kind of company culture they can expect at your organization. No employer is allowed to discriminate on the bases of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age. It’s another thing to show true diversity throughout your organization from top to bottom.

Ensure applicants in a job description that your company is taking strides to be as diverse, equitable, and inclusive as possible.

Define the career path

Define if there’s room for internal promotion within your organization and what those opportunities look like. Showing that there is room for advancement can attract higher-level candidates, which you might otherwise miss out on.

While this is typically talked about in job interviews, including it in your job description adds another layer of transparency from your company to candidates.

Two employees contemplating how to write a job description

Company culture and values

Company culture and company values are often things found on company websites or social media. Adding them to the job description so candidates don’t have to go searching far for them can be an easy way to attract quality candidates.

Make sure it’s easy for applicants to apply

Having a sleek and easy-to-use application process makes you look like an organized, thoughtful company. Make sure your job board is mobile-friendly if that’s where job seekers will be applying.

There’s no sense in writing a perfect job description if there’s a complicated application process. Make this process as smooth as possible. Test that application process is running smoothly before advertising your job opening.

Don’t have time to write your own job descriptions? A staffing agency will do it for you (and bring you top talent)!

There is a lot that goes into writing a job description. Writing an effective job ad is a science, and it takes time to master the process. Don’t have time to write your own job descriptions? Instead of spending hours writing your own job descriptions, let professionals take care of them for you.

A staffing agency like Insight Global knows how to write a job description and will be able to provide qualified candidates who perfectly fit their client’s roles. They also can offer the hourly rates and quality job description writing that hiring managers demand.

When a job description is clear and well-written, managers and employees alike will have a strong sense of the role’s purpose and expectations. It will act as a guide for both you and the candidate during the hiring process. That, hopefully down the road, will lead you to higher retention rates because everyone was on the same page about expectations from day one.

If you want to write your own job description, we’ve provided a couple of brief examples for you to follow.

(Note: We’re going to use an Insight Global-branded About Us section, however, the other aspects of the job description examples are not from current positions open at Insight Global.)

Job description example #1

Job title: Account Executive

Job Summary: We are looking for an Account Executive who is customer service-driven individual that brings new and existing clients the best possible product solutions. They work with key decision makers to maximize their satisfaction by aligning complex products, services, and initiatives while maintaining relationships in order to achieve sustainable growth over time.

Responsibilities & job duties:

  • Demonstrates the skills needed to best serve customers’ business needs with a variety of services.
  • Demonstrates strong leadership skills in diplomatically achieving balance across the company.
  • Manages team members independently and coaches them up to achieve benchmarks.
  • Creates a plan to drive consistent progress between where you are now and future goals.
  • Proactively communicates value with prospects through pre-sales conversations and serving their needs through the sales cycle.
  • A problem solver and liaison between companies to achieve business harmony between one or more business units.
  • Builds relationships to create a culture of service for our partner companies.
  • Follows up on all sales calls to make sure each and every client is satisfied.
  • Engages in a wide range of activities to connect and sustain relationships with both internal and external customers.

Qualifications & skills:

  • 3-5 years of sales experience in a similar role or industry.
  • Team-oriented personality.
  • Strong knowledge of market trends.
  • Bachelor’s degree in communications or related field.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Ability to work in a driven, fast-paced environment.
  • Strong time-management skills.
  • Strong Leadership skills.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Excel, Word, Powerpoint, and/or related software.
  • Experience in Salesforce preferred.

Salary & Benefits: $80,000/year; medical, vision, and dental insurance; 4% 401(k) match after 90 days of employment; 10 days of vacation time per year (increases with yearly employment); 5 paid volunteer days; 5 paid sick days.

Location & type of job: Fully remote (Full-time)

About us: Insight Global is a national staffing and services company dedicated to empowering people. We relentlessly pursue opportunities for others, because when we all work together, anything is possible. We specialize in sourcing information technology, accounting, finance, and engineering professionals, and delivering service-based solutions to Fortune 1000 clients. Our team spans across more than 63 regional offices throughout North America and has pledged to place more than 80,000 people in jobs in 2022. Insight Global’s services extend far beyond just filling roles. In addition to staffing services, we provide culture consulting, diversity, equity and inclusion guidance, specialized health care staffing and resources, and an array of managed services designed to meet company’s individual needs.

Job Description Example #2

Job title: SEO Copywriter

Job Summary: We are looking for a highly motivated candidate that will be responsible for identifying and driving opportunities to optimize website SEO performance through content creation and optimization. This candidate must have a proven track record of creating engaging content (blogs, articles, or website copy) as well as knowledge and expertise in SEO best practices. In addition to regular content publishing, the candidate will also play a critical role in ensuring website content is positioned effectively to drive optimal SEO performance via inbound traffic sources.

Responsibilities & duties:

  • Research topics related to staffing, job search, resume & interview tips, etc. in order to create engaging content for articles, blogs, and resource guides.
  • Conduct keyword research to ensure optimal SEO reach with key website content.
  • Create well-positioned blog articles and resource guides that drive interest and engagement.
  • Assist the marketing team by proofreading and contributing to campaign content to ensure maximum SEO value.
  • Partner with 3rd party vendors to create content calendars that define what, how, and where content should be delivered.
  • Assess User feedback – written and observed and translate into recommendations to drive site and campaign content improvements.
  • Identify new opportunities to reach potential customers by recommending new content to address any uncovered gaps.

Qualifications & skills:

  • Minimum 3 years of experience.
  • Experience copy editing content.
  • Experience with SEO assessment tools (e.g. SEM Rush) and working knowledge in content management systems (e.g. Hubspot) and WordPress preferred.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with different audiences, including senior leadership; demonstrated ability to influence others and get buy-in.
  • Excellent interpersonal, business management, and developmental skills.
  • Self-sufficient, able to manage workload to meet project deadlines, especially multi-task in a fast-paced environment and to make trade-offs when needed to optimize outcome.
  • Market research and digital marketing experience a plus.
  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, or related discipline.
  • Please provide three writing samples and a link to your professional/personal portfolio when applying.

Salary & Benefits: $60,000/year, Medical, dental and vision insurance offered, 4% 401(k) match, unlimited paid time off

Location: Austin, TX (Full-time), hybrid work environment (2-3 days in the office per week–flexible on which days)

About us: Insight Global is a national staffing and services company dedicated to empowering people. We relentlessly pursue opportunities for others, because when we all work together, anything is possible. We specialize in sourcing information technology, accounting, finance, and engineering professionals, and delivering service-based solutions to Fortune 1000 clients. Our team spans across more than 63 regional offices throughout North America and has pledged to place more than 80,000 people in jobs in 2022. Insight Global’s services extend far beyond just filling roles. In addition to staffing services, we provide culture consulting, diversity, equity and inclusion guidance, specialized health care staffing and resources, and an array of managed services designed to meet company’s individual needs.

Job Description Template

Job Title: Their formal position title.

Job Summary: Provide a clear, concise 4 to 5 sentence description about how this role fits into the team and the company overall. Also, answer what success looks like in this position and who this role reports to.

Responsibilities & Duties:

  • List all the essential duties of the position
  • Use present tense verbs and shorter sentences
  • Use gender-neutral language

Qualifications & Skills:

  • Skills needed to succeed in the job
  • Experience in years
  • Education level needed (Associate’s, Bachelor’s, etc)
  • Physical abilities
  • Professional certifications or licenses
  • Personal characteristics

Salary & Benefits: annual or hourly salary, list of primary benefits (including ones that may help you stand out among other competition)

Location & type of job: Both the physical location of the company and if there are any remote aspects; whether it’s full-time, part-time, or contract.

About us: Give the who, what, when, where, and why of your company in a concise 4-5 sentences. You can also share the future goals of where your company is headed and certain values your company cares most about.

Conclusion

A well-written job description sets you on the right path to finding the perfect person to grow your business, and now you have all the tools and tips you need to successfully write one. Reviewing our job description advice and examples, as well as job description templates, will help you become more effective at creating job descriptions in the future.

If you want to land the best talent with optimizing your job descriptions, head over to the Insight Global hiring page, and we can help find you top talent that matches your company’s needs.

Need help finding talented employees? Visit Insight Global's Staffing Services page to get started.