By Gina Blitstein

As businesses grow, owners realize that, although at one point they wore all the hats (and likely needed to), there comes a time when they can no longer juggle every aspect of the operation alone. Once the need for an extra pair of hands or additional set of skills is identified within an organization, owners need to begin seeking out the help they need. The first step to filling a position in your company is writing an effective job description.

A job description is a summary of responsibilities and skills an employee needs to fulfill for a specific position within a company. Job descriptions are as unique as businesses themselves; although there are general titles and positions, the job description you write must describe your specific needs in order to attract the most apt candidates.

Steps to writing an effective job description when seeking an employee

1. Determine exactly what you need

Before you begin listing tasks and responsibilities you can’t – or don’t wish to – continue doing on your own, give considerable thought to the skills and knowledge you may lack. Someone possessing those skills may be the type of employee for whom you’re looking. For example, if you’re a hands-on type of person and the day-to-day paperwork and number-crunching isn’t your forte, you may want to look for office support. Getting help there could free up your time and energy to focus on parts of your business about which you’re more passionate.

Remember, however, you may not need an office manager if all you need is someone to do some filing and light bookkeeping – so do identify your particular needs. On the other hand, if you find you are simply busier doing what you do than you can handle solo, you may want to look for an employee with similar skills and talents as your own to lighten your overall load. The point is to be as specific as possible about the type of assistance you require.

2. Articulate your needs

Create a concise list that summarizes the job and the particulars of what it will take to perform it. Include such details as:

  1. Who - the general qualifications of the position’s ideal candidate (level/type of education, specific skills and abilities, experience)
  2. What - the responsibilities and duties of the position, e.g. provide customer service, operate particular machinery, clean the facilities
  3. Where - the place or setting in which the job must – or can – be performed.
  4. When - the start date of the job, required hours, and duration of position
  5. Why - explain the purpose of the job: support, assist, oversee, manage
  6. How - explain the means and methods by which tasks will be performed, including machines, programs or physical requirements.

3. Write it up!

Once you’ve carefully considered the particulars of the position and the employee you’re seeking to fulfill it, incorporate the whys and wherefores above into a succinct overview.

It is customary to phrase the particular duties of a job as follows, written with dynamic verbs, used in the present tense, avoiding subjective terminology (frequently, sometimes, much…) and elaborating when necessary:

The ideal candidate will: (for example)

  1. greet customers, answer telephone and respond to office correspondence in a friendly and professional manner
  2. operate a cash register, receive payment from customers in cash or credit card and accurately count and provide change to customers
  3. have the ability to communicate technical concepts to customers and vendors alike
  4. be able to drive a forklift

Including information about your particular business may engage job seekers to consider applying for your position. You may also include the pay rate you’re offering for the position, or mention that salary and benefits are competitive so you can iron out those details with qualified interviewees.

The most important component to an effective job description is honesty. Portray the position exactly for what it is – nothing more and nothing less. To offer a less-than-honest portrait of a position is setting yourself and your employee up for disappointment. This job description will be the basis upon which you assess your future employee’s performance and his or her potential for growth within your organization. Make the description clear while allowing for changes that could occur within the structure of your business that could alter the character of the position.

An effective job description is one of the best means to attract appropriate candidates for a position in your business. When written thoughtfully and concisely, it can help you find someone who will help propel your business forward and provide a means to evaluate that growth against their performance.


Blogger Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that can enhance business efforts.

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank.