Writing a Good Job Description – StartUp Style | Work In Startups

Writing a Good Job Description – StartUp Style

Oliver Ewbank is a Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai , a UK Digital Marketing Agency with offices in London and Southampton.

Anyone who works for a StartUp knows that recruiting a top candidate is no easy task. For a company to succeed you need to employ the best digital minds in the business. They need to fit in well, be adaptable, and have the right skills too. So where do you start? It all begins with the job description.

The job description is without doubt the most important part of the recruitment process. It puts you on the road to finding the right prospect and is your first chance to filter out any time wasters or poor quality applicants. More importantly, you can set the requirements for your role and sell the benefits of working for your company.

Typically job descriptions tend to be more quirky for a StartUp, although there are still several rules to help you find the next bright prospect for your business.

So let’s get started:

Job Title

It’s amazing how a slight change to a job title can attract a completely different calibre of applicant. The more specific you can be, the better your chances of getting a top notch employee. Do you want the jack of all trades and master of none? Or do you want someone with a dedicated role? If you’re a new StartUp you may want a ‘jack of all trades’ so you can provide that person with a range of varying tasks.

For example, the title ‘Marketing Executive’ is quite broad and could attract someone with online and offline experience. On the other hand, ‘Inbound SEO Executive’ is a lot more refined and will attract a prospect with this specific skillset.

One thing to remember is that vague job titles can make it hard for the candidate to imagine themselves in the role.

Mission Statement

A good job description should encapsulate the company’s mission. The role may be a perfect fit for the applicant, but you need to entice candidates with a strong mission statement. The more interesting and exciting this can be the better. What makes your company special? What sets you apart from your competitors? What are the goals of your company? What do you offer as a product or service?

Working for a StartUp can sometimes be a gamble in comparison to a stable sector, so it’s important that your mission statement inspires confidence in the role.

Writing Style

Writing style is also incredibly important. Your writing style is the perfect opportunity to display your company’s ethos. Don’t be afraid to be different. Unique descriptions attract unique applicants. Showing a human side to your job description will attract better candidates.

If you are a quirky modern company, use quirky modern language. Show that your business has a fun culture and personality and talk with the same tone you use in your work.

If you are a company with traditional values, take a more traditional approach. Convey serious and prestigious values by using well-structured sentences and formal language.

Define the Role

Make sure you define the role early on. List between five and ten key responsibilities. They should be clear and have an obvious objective. For example, write “Press release writing and selling-in stories to the national press” rather than “gain press coverage”.

If you can include information on how often certain responsibilities will be carried out this will give candidates more information on their day-to-day duties. For example, “Perform and report on weekly E-Marketing Campaigns”.

Required Skills

In the required skills section of the description you have the opportunity to define the role and its responsibilities. List the required skills separately as ‘skills and competencies’. The required skills will be what candidates have learnt in the past or relevant qualifications i.e. presentation skills or a Google AdWords qualification.

Competencies are the traits or attributes you would expect a prospect to display in the day-to-day role i.e. being a team player who is self-motivated.

Desired Skills

The desired skills section is your chance to filter outstanding applicants. The desired skills are not essential to carry out the role but typically it would mean providing less training. Everyone wants a candidate who can hit the ground running, so don’t be afraid to list a range of desired skills.

In this day and age the job market is full of intelligent graduates and self-taught internet guru’s. If you are running a StartUp the desired skills section should be as big as the required skills section.

For example, you may be recruiting for a ‘Marketing Executive’ but if the candidate is familiar with Dreamweaver and Photoshop they can help out in the art and web development departments.

Job Perks

Never forget to mention the perks of a job. Particularly in the StartUp world most candidates understand their worth and will know if they are hot property. So how do you attract the best? If you want to attract the cream of the crop you need to list the benefits of working for your company.

You may not have Google’s giant slides or Facebook’s nap pods but there are always perks to any job. In an office environment small things can go a long way, so don’t be afraid to list small benefits too.

Most candidates will want career progression, so list the opportunities for personal development. Will the successful candidate attend conferences or workshops? Will they benefit from talented individuals in a fun StartUp environment? Do you offer healthcare or pension schemes? Do you have free fruit? Does the company run social events?

Think about what you can offer. Detailing the perks of the role could be the difference between recruiting a newbie and poaching a rock star that is top of their game.

Pictures

Everybody loves pictures. Pimp out your job description with an array of pictures and it will stand out from the crowd. Most job boards allow you to use a logo so do this to showcase your brand. If the description is located on your own site try and post pictures that show the working environment.

If you have shiny new Mac’s, show off your office environment. If you have a funky canteen, show off your food area. If you hold great social events, display a picture of your team nights out. A picture speaks a thousand words and this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Salary

If you have a specific salary advertised you will attract a particular calibre of applicant. Most StartUps tend to work out a broad salary bracket to attract a variety of applicants. Research competitors with similar positions available. This will give you a better idea of what you should offer in your market.

Many StartUps recruit interns, so have a think about what else you can offer as monetary value. Can you pay their travel and expenses? If you have a more concrete position can you offer a performance based bonus scheme?

Another option is to offer shares in the company. If your company is brand new this can be a great way to motivate your employees in order to make the organisation succeed.

Contact Information

If possible provide a phone number as well as an email address for people to apply. If you are a StartUp you may not have a dedicated recruitment or HR team so it’s best to use the details of the potential new employee’s supervisor.

Deadline

StartUps tend to leave vacancies open to keep a regular stream of CV’s coming through the door. If you want to find candidates quickly, put a deadline on the description to encourage a high turnaround of applications. This will increase the urgency and filter out half-hearted candidates.

Tasks

It’s quite common for StartUps to set simple tasks for applicants to complete. This is a great way to filter out time wasters who are not passionate about the role. StartUp companies in early development are constantly looking for new ideas, so this is a good opportunity to get free feedback and analysis on your product or service.

For example, you may simply say “List 5 ways you would promote our product internationally?” If you are looking for someone with creative writing skills you could ask them to re-write your About Us page.

Many companies save applicant tasks until after a face-to-face interview, so this will depend on your recruitment objectives.

Conclusion

A good job description can set you on your way to recruiting the next internet tycoon. If it’s well written, you can filter out irrelevant applicants and entice a high calibre of potential candidates.

Not only does the description give prospects a clear indication of the responsibilities involved, it can also act as a tool for measuring performance in appraisals. The skills and responsibilities listed can be used as a benchmark for personal development within the role.

So there you have it. Writing a job description should be a fun exercise to showcase your company. Superior job descriptions attract superior candidates. The more effort you put into a job description, the more useful it will become in the future. Happy hunting!

Oliver Ewbank is a Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai , a UK Digital Marketing Agency with offices in London and Southampton.

14
Mar 2017
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