Finding the right talent starts with defining the right candidate. The job descriptions that you post for open positions in your municipal administration will impact the quality of the applicants you receive. The more qualified the applicants, the better opportunity you will have to add the right member to your team who is able to make an immediate impact. When writing effective job descriptions, keep the following five best practices in mind:
1. Include an Overview of the Position
Start your job description with a clear and concise definition of the primary functions and goals of the position. Be sure to include the required tasks involved, the methods expected to be used to complete those tasks, and the interactions that the position will have with other departments and key stakeholders. For example, the administrative leaders of Midland, MI begin job descriptions with an overview of the position that help define the expectations for the ideal candidate. Also be sure to list necessary qualifications. If you know your hire must possess excellent written skills, payroll software knowledge or a valid driver’s license, be sure to add those items into your description. If an applicant does not meet the basic qualifications of a position, it will save you both time and effort to identify that fact during the application process.
2. Use Clear, Concise Language to Describe Job Responsibilities
Clearly defining the responsibilities of the anticipated hire will help the candidate envision themselves in the role and assist them in determining if they are a qualified candidate. Use present tense and keep statements short and concise. Utilize formatting features like bulleted lists to keep the layout clean and easy to read. Use gender neutral phrases, or refer to the new hire using “he/she.” Also, avoid vague terms that may make a task seem optional or open to interpretation (e.g.: “May be responsible for occasional payroll duties”). Finally, when including descriptions of recurring tasks, include the frequency (e.g.: Must take and distribute meeting minutes for quarterly committee meeting). The City of Twin Falls, for example, uses a short and concise list of bullet points to define the responsibilities of its available positions. This approach gives candidates a clear understanding of required duties and skills.
3. Include Salary and Benefit Information
Most applicants are searching for a job they will love that meets their compensation requirements. Rather than waiting until the offer stage of the process to discuss financial compensation, communicate salary and benefit information in the job description. Provide a salary range instead of a specific dollar amount to allow for some flexibility. Also provide an overview of the benefits like medical, dental, and vision coverage, as well as more intangible benefits such as a positive work environment and an opportunity to improve one’s community.
4. Use Adjectives Wisely
The adjectives that you use in your job description will help set an expectation for the quality of work to be provided. Include descriptions such as “deadline driven,” or “well-organized.” Use adjectives to describe the work environment as well. This will help applicants to consider if they have the ability and desire to meet the needs of the hiring department and manager. For example, applicants should understand if their work will be “fast-paced,” or if they will be managing the landscape of a “dense wooded area.” Try using adjectives in association with specific responsibilities to emphasize the quality of the work to be performed. Rather than simply describing the candidate as a “fast learner,” qualify that descriptor by clarifying that the ideal candidate must have the “ability to quickly learn policies and procedures.” Such distinctions set an expectation for what is required of the ideal candidate.
5. Clearly Define Essential Duties
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that job descriptions clearly define which functions are essential. This approach allows persons with disabilities to still be considered and hired for positions for which they are able to perform essential tasks.
As defined by the ADA, essential functions “are the functions an individual who holds or desires the position must be able to perform unaided or with the assistance of a reasonable accommodation.” Separate essential job functions, with those that are ideal, but not required, to ensure your job listings are ADA-compliant.
A great way ensure that you have hit the mark on your job description is to run the description through with a manager or an employee in the position you are hiring for and incorporate their feedback. Taking some extra time to provide ample information in the job description.
If you are ready to improve your HR processes, then we invite you to learn more about CivicHR. Our tools make it easy to track recruiting efforts so that you can see how recruiting impacts retention. Click below to sign up for a self-guided or one-on-one demonstration of our powerful software.