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Don't Look for Unicorns and Other Job Description Writing Rules

job search
. / Credit: Hiring Image via Shutterstock

Making the right hire is hard enough in today's job market, but the process is made even more difficult when employers aren't able to accurately describe the type of employee they are searching for, new research shows.

A study by The Creative Group revealed that nearly 30 percent of advertising and marketing executives said identifying the necessary interpersonal, or soft, skills was their greatest challenge when developing a job description.

Separating essential versus preferred duties and accurately describing job responsibilities were among the other stumbling blocks that executives face when writing a job description.

Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, said a well-written job description can mean the difference between a trickle or a flurry of qualified applicants.

"Conversely, a poorly written job description can significantly expand the quantity of unqualified applicants, Domeyer said. "Writing a good job description requires an ability to prioritize essential skills and qualities while also 'selling' your company to job seekers."

To help employers, The Creative Group offers several tips for developing an effective job description:

  • Look ahead: Most jobs are far different from what they were a few years ago. Job descriptions, therefore, should take into account the expanded skill sets now required. Hiring managers should think about what the job should entail based on their company's current needs and long-term objectives.
  • Prioritize: A laundry list of duties gives little insight into what is most important to the employer. Focus on the five or six most crucial skills or qualities for the position; consider consulting high-performing employees in the same role for help developing this list.
  • Don't hunt for unicorns: Make sure the job description is realistic for the role. For example, seeking out a creative director who also can write press releases and sell advertising will greatly limit the pool of qualified applicants.
  • Show some personality: While employers want to use clear and concise language, they also should give applicants a sense of the company's culture. Turn to the creative team or a copywriter to help choose the right words.
  • Tap the experts: Developing a job description from scratch? Hiring managers can find sample job descriptions that outline basic requirements and responsibilities, which they can then customize to fit their business' unique needs.

The study was based on surveys of more than 400 marketing and advertising executives from agencies with at least 20 employees.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.