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How to Write a Job Description

Published April 8, 2024 | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

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Well-written job descriptions act as a magnet, attracting the right candidates who can contribute to your company's success. This guide dives into the world of job descriptions (also known as position descriptions) in NZ. We'll explore what they are, how to write one that shines and provide a handy template to get you started. 

What is a job description (JD), and why does it matter? 

A job description is a clear and concise document outlining the essential details of a specific role within your company. It details to potential applicants the duties, responsibilities and qualifications needed to be successful in that particular role. 

Why are JDs important? 

A good job description: 

  • Streamlines recruitment: Well-crafted job descriptions attract qualified candidates, saving you time and resources sifting through irrelevant applications. 

  • Sets expectations: Clear job descriptions clarify what's expected of the applicant and outlines job duties, ensuring both you and the candidate are on the same page. 

  • Improves hiring decisions: By outlining key skills and experience, an effective job posting helps you identify the best fit for the role. 

  • Sets performance standards: Job postings can be used as a reference point during performance reviews. 

Crafting a compelling job description for your NZ business 

Effective job descriptions include certain specific information that enhances the hiring process. 

Essential elements: 

  • Job title: Make it clear and concise. Use keywords relevant to the role (e.g., "Marketing Specialist" or "Software Developer"). 

  • Company description: Briefly introduce your company, its values and what makes it a great place to work to attract aligned job seekers. 

  • Job summary: Provide a high-level overview of the job purpose and its key responsibilities. 

  • Duties and job responsibilities: List the specific tasks and duties associated with the role. Be clear and avoid generic statements. 

  • Skills and experience: Outline the essential skills and experience required for the job. This includes technical skills, soft skills, physical demands, and any specific qualifications needed. Remember to include nice-to-have skills and preferred qualifications to highlight your ideal candidate. 

  • Location and work schedule: Specify the physical location of the work (on-site, remote, or flexible) and the expected work hours and days. 

  • Working environment: Mention any specific working conditions relevant to the role, including: 

  • Safety requirements: Outline any safety protocols or certifications required (e.g., wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), working at heights training). 

  • Hazardous materials: If the role involves handling hazardous materials, specify the types of materials and any safety precautions involved. 

  • Company Culture: Briefly describe your company culture (e.g., fast-paced, collaborative, team-oriented). 

  • Remuneration: Mention the salary range or compensation structure (e.g., salary + bonus). 

  • Benefits: Highlight any employee benefits packages offered (e.g., health insurance, professional development opportunities). 

  • Who you'll report to: Clearly state who the successful candidate will report to within the company structure. 

Beyond the basics: Attracting top talent 

A good job description goes beyond just listing requirements. Here are a few tips to make yours stand out with prospective employees: 

  • Sell the role: Describe the company culture and the work environment. What makes this position unique and rewarding? 

  • Target the right audience: Use industry-specific language and keywords that resonate with your ideal candidate. 

  • Action-oriented language: Use verbs to describe the desired skills and responsibilities. 

  • Be honest and transparent: Clearly outline expectations and avoid sugarcoating challenges. 

Free job description template for NZ businesses 

Attract the best candidates with a well-written job description using this free template. 

[Job Title] at [Company Name] 

About Us: 

[Briefly introduce your company, its values, and what makes it a great place to work] 

Job Summary: 

We're looking for a highly motivated [Job Title] to join our growing team. In this role, you'll be responsible for [Briefly summarise the key responsibilities of the position]. 

Responsibilities: 

  • [List the specific duties and tasks associated with the role, including essential activities] 

  • [Use verbs to describe the desired skills and responsibilities] 

Skills and Experience: 

  • [Essential Skills]: [List the must-have skills and experience needed for the job] 

  • [Preferred Skills]: [List any desirable nice-to-have skills or experience that would be beneficial] 

Qualifications: 

  • [List any specific qualifications required for the role (e.g., certifications, licenses)] 

Location and Work Schedule: 

  • Location: [Specify the physical location of the work (on-site, remote, or flexible)] 

  • Work Schedule: [Outline the expected work hours and days] 

  • [Mention if flexible work arrangements are considered] 

Remuneration and Benefits: 

  • Salary: [Mention the salary range or compensation structure] 

  • Benefits: [Highlight any employee benefits offered] 

Applications: 

To apply, please submit your CV and a cover letter outlining your suitability for the role to [Email Address]. 

**We are an equal-opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, colour, or national origin. 

The power of compelling job descriptions in a competitive NZ market 

Attracting a top applicant pool in the competitive New Zealand job market requires more than just listing requirements. Here are some additional tips to craft a job description that gets noticed: 

  • Embrace employer branding: Showcase your company culture and values throughout the JD. What makes your workplace unique and appealing? 

  • Highlight growth opportunities: Does your company offer career development programs or training opportunities?  

  • Search job description examples: Look for examples of job descriptions for similar roles with other businesses to understand what to include in your own. 

  • Keywords are key: Optimise your JD with relevant keywords that potential candidates might search for. Use industry-specific terms along with general job titles and skills. This will help your job description appear in search results on NZ job boards like Seek, Trade Me Jobs and Indeed. 

  • Keep it readable: Use clear and concise language. Avoid jargon and overly complex sentences. 

  • Proofread and edit: Ensure your JD is free of typos and grammatical errors. A well-written job description reflects well on your company. 

Beyond the description: Building a strong employer brand 

A compelling job description is just one piece of the puzzle. Here are some ways to build a strong employer brand, optimise your recruiting process and attract top talent in New Zealand: 

  • Utilise social media: Promote your open positions on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. 

  • Engage with industry groups: Connect with industry associations and attend relevant events to showcase your company and available positions. 

  • Employee testimonials: Feature positive testimonials from current employees on your company website or social media. Let your employees be your brand ambassadors. 

  • Focus on diversity and inclusion: Diverse teams perform better. Clearly state your commitment to diversity and inclusion in your JD and throughout your recruitment process

Get expert support with recruitment and HR  

By following these tips and utilising the free job description template provided, you can craft compelling job descriptions that attract top talent and contribute to the success of your New Zealand-based SME. Remember, a well-written JD is an investment in your company's future. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I create an effective job description?

An effective job description is clear, concise, and informative. It outlines the essential details of the role, attracts qualified candidates, and sets expectations. Follow these steps:

  1. Identify the role's purpose and responsibilities.
  2. Outline the required skills and experience.
  3. Highlight company culture and benefits.
  4. Use clear and concise language.
  5. Proofread and edit carefully.
What are the essential elements of a job description?

Every job description should include the following elements:

  • Job title: Clear and concise, using relevant keywords.
  • Company background: Briefly introduce your company and its values.
  • Job summary: A high-level overview of the role's key responsibilities.
  • Duties and responsibilities: List the specific tasks associated with the role.
  • Skills and experience: Outline the essential skills and experience required.
  • Location and work schedule: Specify the work location and schedule.
  • Remuneration: Mention the salary range or compensation structure.
  • Benefits: Highlight any employee benefits offered.
  • Who they report to: Clearly state the reporting structure.
Are there templates for writing job descriptions?

Yes! We've provided a free job description template above to get you started. You can also find various templates online, but remember to customise them for your specific role and company. 

How to tailor a job description for specific roles?

While a template provides a good starting point, tailor your job description to the specific role.

  • Use industry-specific language and keywords relevant to the position.
  • Highlight the skills and experience most crucial for success in that particular role.
  • Adjust the tone and style depending on the job level (entry-level vs. senior management).
Do I need to include salary information in the job description?

While not mandatory by law in New Zealand, including a salary range or compensation structure in your job description is considered good practice. It helps attract qualified candidates who are within your budget and sets clear expectations from the outset. 

How long should a job description be?

Aim for a job description that is concise yet informative. Ideally, it should be one to two pages long. Focus on the most important details and avoid lengthy paragraphs. 

What are some legal considerations when writing a job description?

It's important to ensure your job description is free from any discriminatory language or bias. Avoid specifying preferences based on factors like age, gender, ethnicity, or religion. Focus on the skills and experience required for the role.

Should I mention remote work options in the job description?

If you offer remote work options (either fully remote or hybrid), clearly state this in the job description. This will attract a wider pool of talent, especially in today's job market. 

How can I ensure my job description complies with New Zealand employment law?

The Employsure website provides a range of resources on New Zealand employment law, hiring and onboarding employees. The New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) provides valuable resources and information on employment practices, including legal requirements for job descriptions. 

What should I do with applications after the closing date?

It's good practice to acknowledge receipt of applications and inform unsuccessful candidates after the closing date. This shows professionalism and respect for their time and effort. 

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