How to write a great job description – the list of what to include
Strategy candidates are flooded with opportunities. Their broad skill set, strong academic background and great professional training mean they’re in high demand. As such, it’s critical employers market their roles effectively. All too often we see descriptions of jobs, which fail to explain why the role is exciting. What makes it so great for a consultant? Why is the company so exciting to join?
We’ve therefore written a check-list of what all great jobs descriptions should include. You should also read some tips and tricks we’ve picked up along the way, on how to really sell the role. If there’s one tip that will help throughout this section, it’s the first rule of good marketing: always say what the other companies can’t.
Don’t describe a job – sell it
This is always hard. However, our first advice is to scrap the internal job description.
Job descriptions have traditionally been exactly that – a description. They’re used within a company, so that everyone understands what each role does. Or, more cynically, so the business can approve the budget for a hire.
This is absolutely fine when they’re being used in that context. However, there are a number of issues when these documents are used for recruitment! They are often rather hard to understand, with lots of internal company jargon and acronyms. They also miss the simple stuff – what the company does; who the team report to; who’s in the team etc.
The recruitment marketplace is like any other – you need to market your product according to what your customer wants to see. This isn’t hard – every company knows how to sell itself. It’s just ensuring all the basics are there. As such, we’ve produced a check-list that every great job description should have.
The must-have’s of any great job description
(1) The hook:
What: One sentence that sells the role.
How: Say what others can’t. For start-ups this is usually how much funding you’ve got, or who your backers are. For corporates this is growth figures, or an idea of how many people use your product
(2) The sell story
What: A paragraph to elaborate, and further explain, the “hook”. It should also explain why the role is great for ex-consultants.
How: Use the “hook” as a an initial prompt – elaborate on each point you made there with a couple of sentences. In startups, talk about funding and traction (e.g., number of users; growth etc.). With corporates, this is the chance to explain why this role is so exciting – if you’ve sold them on P&L ownership, explain how they are going to have real responsibility to make a change. There should always be a few sentences at the end about progression and development: consultants are driven and will want to understand what this role will hold for them over the next few years. Don’t forget, the most common things consultants are looking for are ownership and being able to make a change.
(3) The company:
What: A couple of paragraphs explaining what the company does and why it’s great.
How: This is the easy bit. Your company has sold itself (or it’s product) to countless customers. Use a consumer-focused explanation of what makes your company, service or product great. If the company is growing fast, shout about it; mention a few recent accolades. If not, paint the picture on why this is going to be an exciting transformation that people will talk about for years.
(4) The team/ company culture:
What: The most important part of any job is the team you work with. However, this is the section that is most often missing! A simple description of the team, who they report to and in particular any similar backgrounds (i.e., consulting alumni).
How: Describe who’s in the team currently, and what the purpose of the team/ role is to the business. It’s always helpful to understand who leads the team, who they report to (i.e., reporting into CEO) and their background (e.g., led by ex-BCG partner). It’s always worth highlighting any consulting alumni in the team – these are brands consultants will understand! Finally, don’t forget to describe your culture: what sets you apart (i.e., analytics driven; nando’s lunch every Friday!)
(5) The job:
What: A further description of the purpose of the role in the business, and an idea of what they’ll actually be doing.
How: A short paragraph to explain the background to the role. Don’t forget, you’re marketing the role – so explain what’s great (especially for an ex-consultant). We then suggest a bullet point list of 4-6 things that the job is responsible for. Any more is too much detail; too few won’t give an accurate picture of what is involved.
(6) The requirements:
What: The non-negotiable elements that all candidates much have to apply for the role.
How: Be clear on what the candidates need to have to apply for the role. We normally suggest not to be too prescriptive, but to be very clear on what you can’t negotiate on: it sometimes help to split the list into required and useful.
(7) The practicalities
What: Salary banding for the role; whether you can sponsor applicants
How: When you’re a candidate looking at a number of jobs, they all look rather similar. As such, deciphering whether you’re the right level of seniority or whether they’d be interested in you, is extremely hard. Using simple things like salary bandings make a huge difference in the quality of applications you are likely to receive. So we strongly advocate putting a range down – this is non-committal and broad; it just helps to give an idea to potential candidates an idea of who your pitching the role at. We have also found the ability to sponsor candidates, greatly widens your potential pool of talent – the process is very simple, so if you’re focused on getting the best, make sure you check with HR if you can sponsor applicants!
The team at movemeon goes through every job posted, and offers detailed feedback based on above. We realise someone with fresh, independent eyes, can often help in their curation! It’s all part of the service… so why not post today.