How to Write a Job Description: The Secret Key to Hiring and Leading
Do you remember the first time you laid eyes on a job description?
Most likely, it was just another document in a folder full of guidelines, training materials, and instructions for punching your time card.
Or maybe the first job description you encountered was in some Indeed listing you skimmed to see if you had enough qualifications to apply for the position.
Most likely, you have never held a printed job description in your hands and thought, “This is it—the key to my success and growth at this company.”
For many people—including the people who create and share job descriptions—this document is just a formality.
And that perspective is such a waste.
Done well, a job description is a powerful tool for building a happy and engaged team. A good job description:
- Prevents misunderstanding.
- Minimizes time waste.
- Boosts morale.
- Shapes a positive company culture.
- Promotes business growth.
Why a Job Description is Way More Important Than You Think
First, let’s talk about what happens when you don’t have a job description.
You’ve probably been through this scenario before. An employee under-performs. You’re frustrated because you know he’s capable of doing better. He’s frustrated because he feels like his best isn’t good enough for you. This tension hurts the relationship and team morale. And even after a tough conversation, you still may not see the improvement you’re looking for.
As human beings, we have a nasty habit of seeing our own priorities and perspectives as something universal. But each individual is going to interpret challenges and opportunities in their own way.
Your water damage technicians think speed is the top priority, so they rush customer interactions and neglect your top priority: making the client feel heard.
Your sales person chases down residential leads relentlessly, even though you think it’s obvious that commercial sales push faster growth.
By taking the time to sit down and create a job description, you give your team clear guidance while still giving them room for self-management and problem solving. Just as important, you force yourself to consider: What do I really want from my team?
Here are the important questions a great job description answers.
What is the Purpose of the Position?
One reason people tend to think of job descriptions as unimportant? They think a job description is a laundry list of tasks.
I encourage you to think less in terms of tasks and more in terms of “purpose.”
Let’s say you’re hiring a secretary. You may need someone to file papers, answer phones, and manage your contacts. But if you zoom out and look at the big picture, what larger needs does this person fulfill?
Do you need someone to serve as a first point of contact for customers, helping them feel heard and cared for? Do you need someone to keep things running smoothly? Do you need a master of organization who can make sure the small but essential details of running a business don’t fall through the cracks?
When you identify the purpose of this position, you help your employee understand how he or she can best serve your company. This also helps them consider how they can be more proactive in their work.
How Will You Measure Performance?
How many leads should your marketing team generate? What indicators will you use to determine whether your crew is “doing a good job”?
Decide how you are going to measure performance and what you consider “success” within this position. Then share that information in the job description.
When you are clear about this detail, you ease anxiety for the employee and create a shared language for discussing where they may fall short and how they can do better.
I encourage you to also acknowledge and celebrate when your team member meets and exceeds expectations.
How Does This Role Fit Into the Big Picture?
Want a proactive team? Make sure they know:
- What your long-term vision is.
- How they factor into it.
Can your accountant keep an eye out for opportunities to minimize expenses and meet budgeting goals? Do your technicians recognize the role they play in establishing a strong reputation for your business?
A solid job description helps your employee see herself as essential to the mission. It gives her motivation to innovate, create, and help drive the business forward.
Perhaps most importantly, it tells your team member upfront that you see the value of the work they do. In your company, their skills are recognized and appreciated.
Where Do They Fit Into the Chain of Command?
Who does each employee answer to? When should they seem themselves as leaders?
This is another one of those things we incorrectly see as too obvious to mention. But without clarity, time waste and conflict are inevitable.
An employee asks three different people for guidance before they find the person who is actually in a position to help. Two staff members butt heads over something they both see as their own responsibility. A team member holds back on sharing insight in his area of expertise because he sees himself as low-ranking and doesn’t want to step on toes.
Make sure your team knows who to turn to, when to lead, and when to listen.
What Kind of Future Do They Have at This Company?
Finally, what is your long-term view for the person who holds this position?
No matter how small your company is right now, it’s important you think about cultivating leaders. The more you trust your staff to run a strong business, the more opportunities you have to focus on big-picture growth strategies instead of fussing over the day-to-day.
And the first step to cultivating leaders?
Make sure your employees know it’s possible to advance in this company.
How do you see the person in this position building their skill set? What can they do to grow within the business? What is the next step for them if they advance beyond this role?
Help promising staff members see this job as a part of their future and not just a paycheck for today.
How to Write a Job Description
So, how do you write a good job description that actually means something to your employee?
First step: get clear on the exact needs and strategies that will grow your business over the next few years. The more clearly you see your vision, the better you are at defining the roles of your staff.
If you haven’t already, I recommend creating a business plan and conducting a SWOT analysis. This sounds much more daunting than it is. You can actually do both of these things quickly and easily using the free tools available at GetOutOfTheTruck.life. Check out the business plan tool here and the SWOT analysis tool here.
Once those things are in place, head over to our free job description tool. Just like the other two tools, this one generates the document you need using the answers you provide in a simple form. The work it takes to create a job description with this tool is so minimal compared to the benefits you get from having one.
That’s why I created all three of these tools and made them available for free. Clarity is both powerful and essential for any entrepreneur hoping to grow a business.
Gut feelings only get you so far. Hard work without an optimized strategy only gets you exhausted. Failure to communicate puts you at odds with team members who truly want to succeed with you.
But if you know exactly what you want, why you want it, how you’re going to get there, and how your team can help you…
...there is no reason you cannot have the business you’ve always dreamed of.