What constitutes a well-written job description?

A well-written job description has six components. These include:

- Job title.

- Statement of objectives.

- Major responsibilities.

- Job requirements.

- Preferred criteria.

- Relationships with others.

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Job title. If the person were introduced to others, how would you identify him or her? "Sam, I'd like you to meet Sue Ellen, our new copyeditor," or "Marie, here's Larry, out new team leader." If the department within which the individual works is critical to the work done, then that would be part of the title as well. Sue Ellen may be copyeditor for the marketing department or the publishing division. Larry may head up a team in the warehouse or he may be team leader of a product development group.

Statement of objectives. Here's where you indicate the relevance of the position to the organization. How does this position support the department's mission or the strategy of the whole company?

Major responsibilities. Beginning with the most important work functions, you list all those tasks that the individual must do on a regular basis. The specificity of the tasks is a reflection of the level of the position. The higher the position, the broader the description. For instance, a key function of a plant supervisor might be to review production goals with team members at the beginning of each shift, whereas a key responsibility for manager of systems might be to stay abreast of latest technology and application to current systems.

Job requirements. Here is where you would list the standards that all job candidates must meet to be considered for the position. What technical skills are required? How about the ability to manage multiple priorities? A manager should have a track record of coaching and developing others. All the criteria should be work-related. This is critical since the list will be used not only to make the best hiring decision but also to assess the jobholder's performance; differences between you and the jobholder can lead to grievances and even court cases unless they are clearly related to the work to be done.

Preferred criteria. You might want someone with a college degree. If you are hiring a manager, you might prefer someone with five years' previous experience in a similar company. If you see new procedures in the future, ones that many firms already have installed, you might want someone with experience with them or at least a history of flexibility. None of these may be essential for successfully doing the job, but they may be qualities that you would like all candidates to possess.

Relationships with others. To whom should the jobholder report? Other relationships should also be indicated—for instance, participation on internal project groups or maintenance of ongoing relationships with representatives of key customer account.

What can I do to make help-wanted ads more effective?

Brevity is the secret to effective help-wanted ads. There may be numerous responsibilities associated with the vacancy, but the ad should list only the key ones. This increases the likelihood that those who respond will be able to do those tasks most critical to job success.

There's another reason, too, to focus on only a few requirements. The more requirements you list for applicants, the fewer responses you will receive.

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Besides the job requirements, state some of the advantages of the job. Play up, in particular, the opportunities that come with the job—like the chance to head up a project or company-paid training, or corporate investment in a degree program. If your firm has a good reputation that might attract people who know about it, you may also want to include its name in the ad rather than use a box number.

In writing your ad, you may want to consider not only the content but also the general appearance of the ad. I'm not suggesting you pay the added cost of a display ad. Yes, they are likely to get you more attention, with their use of artwork, various typefaces, even the corporate logo, but display ads aren't categorized by type of job. Consequently, job seekers have to read through all the display ads to find yours.

Rather, you should add more white space to your classified ad. The white space will set your ad apart. Let's assume that you are looking for a marketing manager. Here is an example of how you should prepare your ad:

Wanted: Marketing Manager

Growing training organization requires marketing manager to oversee full line of e-learning courses. Job requires:

Degree in marketing.

Five years' experience in marketing.

Supervisory experience.

We offer:

Generous salary and benefits package. Opportunity for career growth as firm expands. Elegant office setting.

Send resume and salary history to Box 328, This Paper.

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