This article is based on research for our eGuide, A Practical Guide to Writing Job Postings.
Having trouble writing a job posting? We know how hard it can be staring at a blank page. You don’t, however, have to struggle. You just have to do your homework.
The first step in writing a comprehensive, effective job posting is to get the nitty-gritty on the position. What is the day-to-day reality of the role? To get this info, you’ll need to schedule what is called an intake meeting.
An intake meeting is your chance to play investigative reporter; it’s an opportunity to ask questions and define the real responsibilities, tasks, and objectives of the role. Let’s take a closer look:
Start with the hiring manager
To ensure a smooth hiring process, you’ll need to have a good sense of the type of candidate the company (and role) needs. To accomplish this, you’ll have to lean on your hiring manager. He or she will have a much better sense of the position’s day-to-day tasks, as well as the kind of person that would best succeed.
To start, ask what qualifications and skills are needed for the job. Make sure to differentiate between technical skills (i.e. hands-on experience) versus ‘soft skills’ (i.e. communication skills). When discussing soft skills, ask for detailed examples to create a more concrete definition. What, for example, does strong communication skills mean for him or her, and why is that important for the company at large? How does this impact productivity?
The idea is to determine which skills and traits are required for the job versus those that are preferred. To clarify these, ask what skills and experience the hiring manager considers mandatory for the role, and which could be trained on-the-job.
This meeting also gives you the chance to ask the hiring manager how the role fits into the bigger picture of the company, or how the new candidate’s work will impact the business. Are there any specific projects that a candidate would work on?
Leverage the exit interview
To create an accurate job description, it’s vital to also meet with the person leaving the position (if there is one). An employee who currently holds the position will be able to provide honest, in-depth insight into the role, allowing you to gain a more complete understanding of the scope of the position.
Ask the employee to describe a typical day at work to get a wider perspective of the tasks and responsibilities. You could ask that they detail both individual and team-based endeavors, as well as the technical and practical skills that would ensure success in the role.
It’s also beneficial to discuss their reasons for leaving the position. Is there anything you can do to improve the job?
Use a hiring questionnaire
If you can’t schedule an intake meeting with the hiring manager or current employee, the next best option is to have them complete a hiring questionnaire. Hiring questionnaires are great for gathering information about the role and its requirements, which can help guide your writing.
Note: if you are the hiring manager, a hiring questionnaire can still be very useful. Think of it as a way to create an outline; your answers will serve as the foundation of the job posting. Use these questions to build a hiring questionnaire that works for you.
Background on the role:
- How does this role contribute to the company’s goals and objectives?
- What are the short- and long-term objectives for this role?
- Is it a new role or a back-fill? If back-fill, how long has it been vacant?
- Where is the role located? What is the base salary? Is there a benefits package?
- What is the reporting structure for this role?
Responsibilities and structure:
- What are the key responsibilities for this role? Are there advancement opportunities?
- What are the primary teams this person will work with? What is the team structure?
- How does this role fit into the overall organizational structure?
Skills/Qualifications for the role:
- Which skills are “must-haves”?
- What skills are preferred, but not necessary? Rank these in order of importance.
- Are you looking for a specific number of years of experience? Is industry-specific experience mandatory? What other industries lend themselves to this role?
- Is there a specific degree or certification required? If yes, what?
- What is the ideal personality for the role?
- Is there someone already with the company who would be a great fit? Who and why?
- When do you expect to carry out interviews?
- When do you wish to see this role filled?
For more job posting tips and templates, download our free eGuide, A Practical Guide to Writing Job Postings. Here’s a sneak peek:
The do’s and don’ts of writing job postings for small businesses