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How to write a Job Description

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Job Description Blog

​The Job description is one of the most important documents in your arsenal when working in a candidate-short, competitive market, in order to engage the right people in your role.

It is important that the job description covers:

  • what will be required of the person in detail so that potential applicants are able to understand if the role matches their requirements for their next position;

  • how much of a new challenge the role would represent;

  • if it is a position that offers them the prospect of success.

The best job descriptions are an engagement tool, a continuation of the marketing you have done around the role that draws potential applicants in and solidifies their interest.

The main sections to include in this guide are outlined below, together with insight into the information to incorporate in each section:

  • Introduction

  • Overview of the charity

  • Key details of role

  • Job responsibilities

  • Person specification

  • Benefits

Introduction

This is where you want to give a brief overview of the role. A short introductory paragraph should set the scene, introduce the charity and, where possible, include reasons for recruiting. You should explain why now is a great time to join the charity, as well as any other headline selling points of the role such as team size. Here is an example:

“Our organisation is at an exciting time in its history – with huge interest in our cause; a new five year strategy and an anniversary year ahead next year. We’re going through an exciting period of growth and are recruiting for a brand new Corporate Fundraising Manager role as part of this. Working within a team of six in Corporate Fundraising and 23 in the wider Fundraising team, the post-holder will be joining an award-winning, collaborative and creative team which has real freedom to build highly strategic, sector leading partnerships.”

Overview of the charity

This is your opportunity to really sell your cause and engage potential candidates with the work you do. Try to keep to a couple of paragraphs and focus on what you feel really makes you amazing!

You could start with a brief overview of the organisation’s history. Then go on to talk about the impact of the work you undertake; the organisation’s proudest achievements; key milestones you have reached. You could even include testimonials from beneficiaries if you feel it is appropriate. Potential candidates may well be considering several roles. The key here is to take the opportunity to really sell the cause and the work that you do.

Key details of the role

This is the information that it is important to include in the job description so that potential candidates are aware of key details such as salary, interview process etc. It is fine to use bullet points as this presents the information in a clear and concise way, which is your main aim in this section. Suggestions of what to include are:

  • Job title

  • Role type – is it permanent or interim? If interim, it is important to explain why.

  • Salary range

  • Location

  • Flexible working arrangements – it is a good idea to be clear here about what you can offer – could the role be full or part-time for instance? Would you consider home working? If so, how much?

  • Deadline for applications and application process

  • Dates for first and, if anticipated, second interviews

Main responsibilities

You need to provide as much detail about the role as possible. The aim is to give potential candidates a clear understanding of what the role entails. The most attractive job packs include information on areas such as: income targets; number of people the role will be managing; split of duties in role, so feel free to go into detail! Start by writing a long list of everything you want the person to take on. Then work through your list, making sure each point would make sense to an external reader e.g. is all information relevant and in the right order? Delete any irrelevant details to avoid the inadvertent mis-selling of the role.

It is a good idea to split the tasks involved in the role and list them in order of importance for the role. For instance, if the role is a fundraising position and the person’s primary duty will be to generate income, you could use something like:

“Meet and, where possible, exceed income targets through the delivery of strong fundraising relationships that bring in five and six figure income for the charity”.

If the role is primarily about leading a team, then this should be at the top of the list of duties. If the role is multi-faceted, it is a good idea to consider splitting the responsibilities section into sub sections, listing duties within each in more detail, in order to define exactly what is expected of the person across each main area of their role.

Person specification

You should include everything you are looking for in potential applicants. Lots of charities use a table format to let candidates know which experience is absolutely essential and which is desirable, giving an idea of where there might be some flexibility in terms of experience.

A note to bear in mind on this section is to question each point on here as you write it. Think about why the skill, experience, or knowledge is necessary and desirable. Think about whether it is really vital and why it is needed for the role. For instance, Person Specifications often include “Degree is essential” which can exclude potential candidates with no degree but relevant skills, when having a degree might not even be relevant to the position. Doing this exercise and keeping the “Person Specification” section as open as possible will mean that you are able to attract candidates from a more diverse pool, breaking down barriers to application that might simply be outdated or irrelevant.

Benefits

It is a good idea to include your benefits in the job description, particularly if they are unusual. Salary is not necessarily what is the key motivation as people at different life-stages have different priorities. Often people feel uncomfortable asking about benefits relating to holiday allowance, maternity and paternity allowance but these details can be fundamental to their decision to move role. Remember to include this information to further encourage the best candidates to apply.