TOP 5 Keys to Writing a Brilliant Position Description

Writing a position description (aka job description or job specification) whether it be your own or a direct report can sit on the spectrum of interest anywhere from “I’d rather watch paint dry’ to “let me start writing Ben-Hur”.  If you were told that writing a job description and writing it well is the foundation for managing people effectively would you look into writing one?

A position description is a formal document that summarises the important functions of a specific job, using clear and concise language. It should accurately represent actual duties and responsibilities as well as job specifications.

A well written job description performs a number of important functions; it helps people focus on targeting the right candidate for a vacant position, It describes the skills and competencies that are needed to perform the role,   It defines where the job fits within the company hierarchy, It forms the foundation for the employment contract and it is a valuable performance management tool. For the employee they answer two very important questions, What do they expect from me? And What do I need to achieve to be successful in this role?

Well look no further because this week the team at Happening People have put our heads together and come up with the Top 5 Keys to Writing a Brilliant Position Description

Remember – it may seem daunting  but ultimately the benefits you will gain from being able to use this tool to effectively manage the members of your team will outweigh any hardships you face putting it together.

1. Get Started

Planning the structure of the job description is relatively simple and does not vary too much, description to description. You need to consider :
Job title, Department name, Reporting structure, Key responsibilities, Output or results expected Required skills and competencies, Physical and mental requirements,  Background and/or education, include Salary band, accountabilities, authority, Relationship to other key roles and technical and people skill requirements.

2. Ask for Input
Now that you have the basics in place, it makes good business sense to show it to other areas of the business – most importantly those who will rely on the output from the position you are putting in place. Ask them to highlight the most important responsibilities and the measurements they’ll use to identify success. For example is it accuracy, speed or volume? Taking the time to understand what is needed from the position will be crucial when recruiting and when assessing  individuals currently in the role.

3. Duties and Responsibilities
This is a major section of the job description and spending a large amount of time on this section will assist you in managing the incumbent to success in this role.
Identify the major parts of the job with short headings that start with action verbs. Listing specific job function headings will allow you to more easily group related tasks. You may find it helpful to list all tasks that the position must do, group those that are related, and then determine the appropriate heading.  Top Tips:

  • Limit this section to eight current essential duties and responsibilities each of which accounts for more than 5% of the position.
  • List them in descending order of importance and prioritise them by indicating the percentage of time spent on the duties.
  • Use clear and concise language; closely related duties should be grouped together in one responsibility statement.
  • Avoid gender-based language.

4. Make it Inspirational
IQ Partners a HR firm in Canada offer this piece of advice ‘Job descriptions shouldn’t just be informational… they should be inspirational!  Here are some points to consider;

  • Use a natural voice that conveys some of the personality of your companies.
  • Avoid clichés and keep the business jargon to a minimum.
  • Ensure the most appealing aspects of the job are highlighted and stand out.
  • When you’re done, read it back to yourself and ask the question ‘Would this role be something I am interested in pursuing?”

5. Superman is not Available
Once you have completed the job description have a look over it again, read through the responsibilities, key results and required skills to make sure they’re realistic. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself and create something that only Superman or Super  Woman could achieve. The rule of thumb here is to stick to the most essential elements of the role and use it as an evolving document.

Writing a job description and writing it well is the foundation for managing people effectively, Happening People offer a Corporate Training Program “Managing People for Performance” which includes Designing Role Descriptions.
If you would like to know more ……..
Call Happening People on 1800 68 67 69 or go to


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Filed under Human Resources, People Management, Positive Psychology, Professional Development, Recruitment

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