How to write a job description (template included)

By AIM Team
June 02, 2017

For many small business hiring managers writing a job description is a difficult task. Where should you start? Although job descriptions can look intimidating at first, they all follow a similar template and share some common characteristics.

Depending on the size of your company, job descriptions can be simple or complex. In larger companies, job descriptions are tied to pay grades and salaries, performance reviews, training plans and legal documentation needed for compliance. Small businesses generally don’t require such a formal document and process.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines a job description as “a useful, plain-language tool that describes the tasks, duties, functions and responsibilities of a position.” Job descriptions are often used in recruiting. They are what most employers use as the basis for a job posting. So, in order to attract the right candidates, it’s worth taking a little extra time to write a job description.

At Careerlink, we see examples of job descriptions every day–some good, some not so good. So, what makes one job description better than another? An effective job description paints a picture of what the day-to-day of a position is like and what skills are required to fulfill the duties.

To help you understand how to write a job description, we’ve compiled a list of the essential elements to include. You’ll have no problem attracting qualified candidates for your job opening, if you follow the advice below or use one of the templates provides.

Just the Job Facts

Most official job descriptions include a section that outlines the nitty-gritty details. These details help to give context to the role and how it fits into the company. Here are some examples of what you might include in this section:

> Who the role reports to
> Who reports to the role
> The department/team in which this role exists
> Work location
> Job type (full-time, part-time, casual)
> If the role is exempt or non-exempt
> Hours per week or schedule
> Pay grade or salary range

Job Title

The recent trend of nonsensical job titles (especially in Silicon Valley) has been the subject of a several “are you kidding me?” blog posts and a few comical job title generators. When it comes to job titles, though, simple and straightforward really is preferred.

Call a receptionist a receptionist. Employers should avoid getting too creative with job titles. While renaming your receptionist to “director of first impressions” might seem like a fun idea, it may hurt your recruiting efforts.

You want to use words that align with the industry standards to prevent confusion. Since search algorithms are at the center of most job hunts, you want your job title to match the search terms job seekers are using.

Job Purpose

In one or two sentences, explain the core function or objective of the position. Think of this as the :30 elevator speech for this role. Brevity is the goal.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities

Create a bulleted list of the primary responsibilities for this job position. Include broad functions, as well as specific tasks, putting the highest priorities first. And, be sure to list all tasks with the verbs in present tense.

Paint a picture of the day-to-day and you’ll attract more qualified candidates. Don’t be afraid to talk about projects and the not-so-fun parts of the job. Most candidates want to make an impact, which means they won’t shy away from challenges.

The more specific and concise you can be, the better. Avoid using jargon and cut as many words as you can. The SBA recommends cutting out fluff words like frequently, some, complex, occasional and several.


State the minimum skills, education and certifications required to successfully perform the job. Indicate which qualifications are “nice to have” and which are “must haves” for the position. It’s also a good idea to include any specialized knowledge or equipment familiarity required for the role.

Listing skills and certifications can also improve the chances of a job seeker finding your job postings. For example, a job seeker may search for “Sterile Processing.” Although the official title for the job is “Surgical Technician,” they will still see your job in the search results if you include it in the description.

Salary and Benefits

According to LinkedIn, the primary reason that people search for new jobs is to increase their salary. Include relevant salary and benefits information. If you don’t feel comfortable putting down a salary range, just write “negotiable” or “commensurate with experience.”

Sixty-one percent of job seekers say benefits information influences their decision to apply. So, be sure to include a list of benefits your company provides, such as health insurance, 401(k) and paid time off.

Company Description

Include 2-3 sentences about your company and the culture. Consider adding more than a standard cut-and-paste description of your company. This will help you attract candidates who are not only qualified but who share the same values and vision as your company.

How to Apply

Don’t forget to conclude your job description with a clear call to action. Give applicants an idea of your application process and who to contact with questions, especially if you prefer they take special steps to apply.