How to Write a Great Job Description
If you want your sales business to succeed, itâs vital that everyone in your organization knows whatâs expected of them. When you understand what your business needs, and you can express that clearly, it helps all of your staff to move in the same direction.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is to create clear, comprehensive job descriptions for every position in your business. If you donât have job descriptions in place already, it can take some time and effort to set them up. Itâs worth doing though, as job descriptions set expectations with your staff, let them know what their responsibilities are, and can also help to create the objectives you want them to meet.
If you do already have job descriptions written, the advice in this article can help you tweak and refine them so theyâre as effective as possible.
What exactly is a job description?
A job description is a document that sets out what you want from the specific roles and positions in your business. Job descriptions apply to roles, not to the specific person filling that role. A job description normally contains the following:
- The name of the role.
- The level of the role (e.g. junior, managerial, executive).
- A high-level view of what the job role does / key accountabilities.
- The duties and responsibilities of the role, normally divided by area.
- The skills and competencies needed in the role.
They can also contain the following optional information:
- Pay grade and salary range.
- The department that the job role is in.
- Performance standards.
How do job descriptions and objectives work together?
Job descriptions and objectives arenât the same thing, although they are related to each other. A job description is specific to a particular role, whereas objectives are specific to a person in that role. Objectives often come from job descriptions – Reading through the roles, responsibilities, and requirements and then creating targets and goals around each one.
This means job descriptions shouldnât contain objectives or specific targets, since youâll want to tailor objectives to the skills, abilities, and development of your people. For example:
- A job description might say: âIncrease the turnover of Blue Widget Co. by pitching our products and services to major retail clients.â
- An objective for a person in that role might say: âIncrease the turnover of Blue Widget Co. by 10% over the next 12 months by pitching our products to at least 2 major retail clients a month.â
Writing a job description
Hereâs a step-by-step guide to writing an effective job description.
- Write the job title and level.
- Decide on the main accountability areas of the role.
- For each accountability area, describe the specific duties of the role.
- Describe the skills and competencies needed for the role.
- Add any optional information thatâs needed.
Write the job title and level
All job descriptions should start off with the job title, and the level it works at. For example: âSenior Sales coordinatorâ, level 3. If you want, you can also add what Â position the job role reports into. For example: âReporting to the Head of Sales.â
Decide on the main accountability areas for the role
You already have a good understanding of what you want your business to achieve, and how the various roles support your aims. The next step in writing a job description is to think about the main areas of responsibility for the role. These are not specific duties (weâll cover that in the next step), but the main areas that the job role influences. For example:
- Increase sales.
- Meet with clients.
- Create sales materials.
- Manage customer accounts.
- Preparing correspondence.
You should aim for three to five main accountability areas.
For each accountability area, describe the specific duties of the role
Brainstorm all of the main duties associated with each area. Review and consolidate them into one or two duty statements for each accountability. These duties are the heart of the job description:
- They should accurately describe exactly whatâs expected in the role.
- They can be used to build objectives off of later on.
- They should be specific to the role, not to an individual.
For example, under the âIncrease Salesâ area, you could have the following:
- Generate leads through cold calling, following up on previous enquiries, and networking.
- Produce competitive quotes and proposals to meet customer needs.
You should use âaction verbsâ (create, generate, build, etc.) at the start of each duty. You can follow this with a concise sentence that covers the essential elements of what the role needs to do. Avoid jargon and business buzzwords wherever you can.
Describe the skills and competencies needed for the role
Once youâve got all your duty statements in place, describe the key skills, experience, and competencies that someone performing the role needs to have. This can include technical experience, training, interpersonal skills, qualifications, and soft skills. For example:
- Experienced with Microsoft Office, especially Excel and PowerPoint.
- Excellent negotiation and influencing skills.
- Certificate in Agile project management.
- Skilled at developing and providing feedback on new products and services.
Cover all of the most important skills that a typical person needs to carry out the role successfully.
Add any optional information thatâs needed
Your job description is almost done. Before you finish it, think about if you want to add any optional information. This might include:
- The salary range and pay grade, including commission if appropriate.
- Any specific performance standards – These are the expectations of the role, based on how you expect everything to work. It could include statements like:
- Prepared to work with a minimum of supervision.
- Must be an excellent communicator.
- Comfortable presenting to audiences of varying seniority.
Hints and tips
Finally, here are some hints and tips to polish your job descriptions even more:
- Keep job descriptions concise and punchy. Never use three words when one will do.
- Share job descriptions with your peers and senior managers and get their feedback on what the job description should (and shouldnât) contain.
- Use job descriptions to help you create specific objectives for your people.
- Use job descriptions to create advertisements for recruitment websites. Weâll cover the best way to do that in a future article.
Putting together job descriptions can be a time consuming process, but it helps everyone in your business work to the same standards. Spending some effort on creating concise, effective job descriptions will improve how you manage your people, set objectives, and ensure everyone is performing to the standards you need.