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The do’s & don’ts of job description templates

October 19, 2018

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The do’s & don’ts of job description templates

6 min read

The goal of using job description templates is to save time and keep your job descriptions uniform. But behind the convenience lurk some very real hazards if you’re not careful.

The trick is to never regard a job description template as the real-deal for all your job requirements. You must always be willing to tailor the template to suit the immediate prerequisites of the job as it currently stands, even if you’ve hired for the same position recently. It’s also significant to note that templates aren’t always the best solution for every vacancy that you have, but that doesn’t mean that you must exclude them from your recruitment tools.

Knowing the difference between a customized internal job description and a job description template that’s been compiled in a generic format to guide clients across different sectors is another critical factor. As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to consider, so let’s put those into perspective.

Pros of job description templates

  • They provide a uniform framework for all job descriptions.
  • They look professional and create an excellent first impression for candidates.
  • They clearly spell out the job requirements to prospective applicants
  • They make the initial selection and elimination of applicants easier.
  • They speed up the interview process because candidates know what to expect.
  • They provide hiring managers with a clear guideline of the general requirements of a role.

Cons of job description templates

  • They are a guideline and have to be tailored to suit each specific role.
  • They are generic, so vital nuances particular to each business are missing.
  • They can eliminate quality candidates because descriptions are too general.
  • They can mislead applicants if descriptions are too broad, leading to lots of unsuitable applications that have to be rejected.
  • They can come across as insincere, especially if the same template is used, unchanged, over and over again (even if you change the job title).
  • They aren’t suitable for all roles, even if they are tailored.

Where do they work best?

If you have many similar vacancies, like in a call center, admin, or sales environment, then job templates are a life-saver. They can help when it comes to saving time and getting your vacancy represented professionally across multiple platforms. With a bit of fine-tuning, you’ll get the job template to match your requirements and attract the type of candidates you want.

Tailor your templates when you’re looking to fill a vacancy that has more detailed job requirements, like support, technical, or even middle management roles, you can still use job description templates successfully. What you’ll have to do though is spend some time tailoring the template to match the precise requirements of your business or department. Depending on your organizational structure, it can be a good idea to distribute the job description template, as is, to current employees in those roles.  Ask them each to tailor it to what they think the job description should be.

In some instances including the future peers of the successful candidate can also be very helpful because they see the role from a different perspective to that of management. Once everyone is done tailoring the generic job description template, you’ll be able to come up with a very accurate job description.

Avoid templates for senior level roles

Job templates don’t work well for specialized and senior to executive management roles. Although these roles will have some general responsibilities, most of the requirements will be unique to the industry as well as the business. The danger of using job description templates for these type of roles is that you can end up putting out a job advert that doesn’t attract the candidates that you want. Any template is restricting, and when it comes to job adverts at this level, you need to include enough specific information to attract the best talent, but you want to add options so that candidates don’t think it’s a waste of time applying.

Specialized and senior to executive management vacancies almost always require candidates with substantial experience and most people would’ve gained this experience across a number of jobs. If your job advert comes across as restrictive, many potentially suitable candidates might not want to apply. People who are employed in jobs with hard to find skills or experience, or at a very senior level, won’t apply for just any vacancy they see. They’ll only move for a reason, and that reason is that the job advert drew and held their attention for long enough to make them contemplate, and actually make an application.

Templates as a vital tool

Job description templates are a vital tool for any hiring manager, so don’t exclude them. But know that they aren’t a quick-fix. Never use any template without reviewing it carefully to ensure that it has all the requirements you need and excludes those you don’t. You also want the job description to reflect your business and not come across as a cold, flat document, so make sure to weave your brand into the text to bring it to life.

Spend a bit of time on each template you use to liven it up and make it engaging. Don’t forget to carefully consider the job title and ensure it’s an accurate reflection of the job and your business. If you pass on this advice, you could fall victim to the old saying ‘hire in haste, repent at leisure!’

Remember too that there’s life after the hiring process, so a job description doesn’t disappear after a candidate becomes an employee; it becomes part of the legal contract between employer and employee. A well-written job description sets the rules and the guidelines for successful employees, but it mustn’t stifle innovation or their ability to improve. A poorly written job description, on the other hand, can result in any of a multitude of problems, from hiring the wrong candidate to losing your best candidate because they’re unclear of what’s expected from them.

Recruitee can help you automate and optimize this vital part of your recruitment and candidate/employee retention process with our free download of over 200 job description templates that are compatible with your hiring. These can be tailored and compiled simultaneously to ensure that you include all the correct job requirements, and also include pertinent questions that will make the screening and interview process more manageable.

Looking for something more digestible? Check out our list of the 20 most popular job description examples to share with your team.

Bev has enthusiastically worked to match top employers and candidates for almost twenty years. An endless curiosity of the human mind, HR tech development, how to help people reach their goals and the ever-evolving hiring landscape is what keeps her fired up.
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