How to Write a Job Description for Your Small Business

So you think you’re ready to hire. Whether the goal is to have an extra pair of hands for your current workload or to start on a new activity for your business, you probably have a rough concept of the role in your mind. Too many entrepreneurs move forward with this rough idea directly into the recruiting process. This simple mistake, though, could lead to a mis-hire and problems down the road.

Knowing What Your Small Business Needs

Job descriptions are a crucial part of knowing why and who you’ll hire. You may have an idea of what your new employee will do, but putting it down on paper will help you determine:

Whether the employee is going to have meaningful work to do.

The best employees are the ones who are motivated to do their work. Often, this means having a challenge in front of them, or at least having a clear picture of contributing to a bigger goal. Be sure to ask yourself whether this role is large enough to constitute bringing someone new onboard with your small business.

If it’s worth paying someone else to take on this work.

Similarly, when you see your intended role written down on paper, you may realize it’s not worth paying someone else to take on this work. Often, you may realize that you could reshuffle your own priorities, use an automation tool, or outsource the work to a professional.

What capacity to hire in.

While your first instinct may be to hire a full-time employee, there are several options to weigh in hiring. You may realize that hiring a contractor or a part-time employee would benefit your business more than bringing in someone full-time right away.

What skills and competencies to look for in your new employee.   

Regardless of what capacity you’re hiring someone in, that individual will certainly need a specific set of skills and competencies to succeed. Whether they need a background in coding or strong social skills, you should make these key recruiting decisions before even launching a job posting.

Setting Expectations with a Job Description

It pays to be clear in what you’re looking for from your employees, and it pays for your applicants to know what you’re looking for, too. Job descriptions should clarify the responsibilities, necessary skills, and any other requirements (like hourly commitments). Applicants can use this information to decide whether they’re a good fit, weeding out many of the applicants that will waste your time and energy in the recruiting process.

Marketing your Business in a Job Description

The best job descriptions include more than just the basics. You can send a message about your company’s background and culture. Use the job description to market yourself, because labor can be competitive!
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering what to tell applicants: What makes you most excited about your company? What would you want future employees to be especially passionate about when they tell friends about their new job? What makes your company unique? What kind of working relationship will you have with your team?

What to Include

  1. Job title. Use a specific title that applicants might be familiar with. This will allow applicants to find your posting in their searches.
  2. Lines of responsibility. Include who the role reports to and how the role fits into your organizational structure.
  3. Key responsibilities. Get into the details of what your new hire will be doing for your company, including how those responsibilities contribute to the bigger picture.
  4. Required skills & experience (including education, if applicable). Let applicants know what you’re looking for, but make sure your expectations are realistic.
  5. Physical qualifications (if applicable). If your role requires standing for long periods of time, lifting, or other physical requirements, be sure to add this information. However, note that this can be tricky in the hiring process. You may not be able to use physical limitations asa reason not to hire if you can make a ‘reasonable accommodation’.
  6. Expected range of pay and type (hourly or salaried). Avoid unrealistic expectations by stating this early, and follow industry norms and minimum wage requirements.
  7. Company perks and benefits. Use company benefits to differentiate yourself from your competition in the labor market, and make it clear to applicants what they’ll get if they join your company.
  8. Company description. Market yourself, and decide what makes you a better employer than your competition. When candidates are a good fit for your company’s culture and strategy, you’ll benefit in the long-run. That means you should give them the chance to get passionate about your work.

Writing a job description only takes a few minutes, but it can save hours and hours of work in your recruiting process.

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