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16.07.20

How to write a Position Description

How to Write a Job Description That Attracts Awesome Applicants

It can be surprising when a client engages our services to source an experienced and qualified professional, only to discover that a Position Description (PD) for the role does not exist. From the recruiter perspective, this is often one of the first things a prospective candidate wants to review. A PD is not only a reflection of the key elements of the job itself, it provides a window into the organisation, its culture and a vision of what long-term success in the role looks like.

Just like the candidate who is re-working their CV, there’s both art and science involved in creating a quality PD that is fit for purpose. It doesn’t need to be an overly complex process, but many companies who don’t have PDs – or haven’t updated them in awhile – struggle with where to begin. Stratacon has collaborated with Sharon Griffin from SG People & Culture (a specialist in the field of all-things-HR) to provide some simple advice to make this process easier for your organisation. As a bonus, you’ll find a free downloadable template at the end of this article that will help get you started in no time.

Where to begin: Job Analysis

As a starting point, we strongly encourage a  thorough job analysis to get clear in your own mind in terms of why this role exists and what the employee will be doing. The job manager (or whoever the job will report to) is a key stakeholder in this process. Also helpful might be other people who perform the same role – what are the duties and tasks they perform? What does great look like?  If the role is new for your organisation, consult the people who are currently performing the tasks this new role will now be responsible for – what do they do? Or reflect yourself – why did you decide the role was needed – what was missing in your organisation and what need will this role fulfil? 

Writing the PD: what to include

    • Start with the basic information: Title, Department and Location; Reports To & Direct Reports
    • State the Purpose. The Purpose should clearly articulate why your organisation needs this role and ultimately how it connects the vision and mission of the company. You should be able to summarise this into a brief paragraph of no more than 1 to 3 sentences. Remember this is one of the first insights for the prospective employee into your organisation, so take care in how you present this part.
    • The next section defines what skills are needed and what the role is actually doing down to individual task level. Include Key Competencies / Requirements – this is where you are stating what the ideal candidate will bring to the role including qualifications, software and essential skills and knowledge. 
    • TheKey Responsibilities section is where you clarify the actual tasks this person in this role will be required to do. This is not an all-inclusive list but rather an opportunity to “bucket” the key responsibilities of the role, to provide a realistic preview for the candidate.
    • We strongly encourage organisations to include company values and behaviours as a part of the  PD. Doing so ensures that individuals know what they are signing up to and that job performance is not just about the “what” but about the “how” as well. 
    • A very important section in the PD outlines the expected Strategic Outcomes / KPIs for the role – this will help the candidate to know how success will be measured.
    • Finally, give an overview of the key stakeholders this role will interact with including ‘Major Interactions: Internal’ and ‘Major Interactions: External’.

Top Tips:

    • PDs should NOT be war and peace – this is not an end to end checklist of every single task, rather intended to establish a realistic expectation of what the job is and what is required for success. A general recommendation is to keep it to 2-3 pages at most
    • Think in terms of buckets: start with key words in terms of the different categories and then you can refine / expand once you’ve got these set out
    • The PD should be about the ROLE – not designed for a specific individual
    • Include Values and Behaviours in the PD to make it abundantly clear that this is a minimum expectation of the role – this will also help to recruit for culture fit in addition to role fit
    • Be specific around the link between the role and the organisation’s strategy

 

Further Resources:

Please use the link below to download our free Position Description template. If you would like assistance with developing your organisational PDs or want to discuss this further, contact Stratacon directly to discuss how we might be able to assist you.

Position Description Template

Download PD Template

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