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What is a job description? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write one

3-minute read

Sam Bromley

Sam Bromley

21 October 2021

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You’ve built your business and now you want to hire an employee to help it grow. A job description helps to advertise the role, but what is a job description exactly?

This guide explains more. It'll help you create your own job description template, which you can change every time you want to hire someone new.

What is a job description?

There’s no legal obligation for you to write a job description when hiring staff. It could be that you want to hire someone already in your network, meaning that you just need to have a conversation with them and convince them to join your business.

But if you’re actively searching for someone to fill a role from a wide pool of candidates, then writing a great job description helps to advertise the role. It gives you and your potential employees clarity about exactly what you’re looking for.

By being clear about what you need at the outset, you should attract the right people. A well-defined job description also means you and your employee know their responsibilities and what’s expected of them, helping to evaluate performance after they’re hired.

All job descriptions should therefore include these common elements:

  • job title and summary
  • duties and responsibilities
  • where the role fits within the business
  • experience, knowledge, and skills
  • remuneration (salary, bonuses, and other benefits)
  • your business (its culture and aims – why should people want to work for you?)

How to write a job description

Use these common sections to create your own job description template.

Job title and summary

This seems straightforward, but consider the subtle differences between certain positions.

For example, if you’re looking for someone to help with creating images and designs, are you looking for a graphic designer or an artworker?

While skill sets for roles often cross over, it’s important to be as specific as possible in the job title to attract people with the right experience. You might need to research roles and read other job descriptions to nail down exactly what you're after.

Using the right terms will also help people find the open position when searching on Google and on job boards.

Include a summary section so people can get the relevant details quickly. Say whether the role is:

  • full-time or part-time
  • permanent or a contract
  • office-based or remote (include the location if they’ll be working from a premises)

Duties and responsibilities

You can include these as one section or separate them in two.

Duties often give an overview of what the person will be doing in the role, while responsibilities go into a bit more detail, describing what’s expected of them.

Use bullet points rather than paragraphs to make these sections easier to read.

Separating the sections means you can give an overview of duties early in the description, helping the candidate decide whether they want to apply. Then if they’re interested, they can have a more detailed look at the responsibilities.

It’s tempting to write down all the tasks that the person will be overseeing, but try to stick to the most important ones. Why not give your job description template a word count to stick to, or use a maximum of five bullet points each for duties and responsibilities?

Where the role fits within the business

You can explain more about the role and where it sits in your business structure.

Will this person be managing other employees? Are you setting up a new team that you want this person to lead, or launching a new product or project? Give a clear and concise overview here (a couple of sentences will do).

You can hint at growth opportunities for the person here, too. How far could the right person take this role?

Experience, knowledge, and skills

You and your prospective employee will want to make sure that they can perform the job competently.

So even if someone likes the sound of the job so far, this is an important section that will help them decide whether to apply or not.

List what you’re looking for when it comes to:

  • skills and any desired qualifications
  • years of experience
  • knowledge of software and processes
  • ‘soft’ skills (e.g. people, communication, and time management skills)

It’s unrealistic to expect one person to have everything that you’re looking for, but setting expectations here should give you a better shortlist of candidates.


Applicants will want to have an idea of salary when applying. Even if you don’t want to give an exact number, you can always give a range to set the right expectations.

Do you offer any bonuses, or other benefits? What’s your workplace pension like?

If you’re writing a job description as part of an overall job advert, this is where you can start to sell the package that employees will receive.

Your business

This section leads nicely from remuneration, as you can continue to sell your business and its culture to prospective employees.

Think about what makes your business great and highlight it in this section of the job description. For example:

  • if you go out for lunch at the end of the week, let applicants know that they don’t need to bring their own lunch on Fridays
  • big up the work-life balance for employees if you offer flexible working
  • if your business is growing and making a profit, discuss your aims and ambitions

Use these tips to create a job description template

The tips above help you understand how to write a good job description. Once you’ve put one together successfully, you can use that as a job description template. That way, you should only have to change the role's details each time you hire.

Want to know more about writing a job description? Tell us what you’d like to hear about in the comments below.

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Sam Bromley

Written by

Sam Bromley

Sam has more than 10 years of experience in writing for financial services. He specialises in illuminating complicated topics, from IR35 to ISAs, and identifying emerging trends that audiences want to know about. Sam spent five years at Simply Business, where he was Senior Copywriter.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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