Crafting the Perfect IT Job Description: Expert Tips and Best Practices
Everyone has read a job description at least once. It’d be quite amazing if you haven’t! A job description is a document that clearly describes general tasks, requirements, duties, and responsibilities for a particular position within an organization. Something many companies do not consider is that the job description is the FIRST LOOK an outsider will get regarding the inner workings of your company. So it is important to make the job description unique for your organization. What culture are you trying to build, what type of team are you trying to develop, these are all questions the job description can answer.
Job descriptions have a few key components that need to be included. The position’s title, purpose, duties or responsibilities, qualifications, and working conditions.
A job title is quite a funny thing. It is something the company makes up to define a classification of work being done. The job title can be unique and specific to your organization but in doing so, it makes it more difficult to fill the role as many people search for job opportunities based on job titles that match their previous experience. Another issue many companies have with job titles is that depending on the tier of the company the same job title in another company could fill an entirely different role. The job title that you post does not necessarily have to be the title that you use internally. If you use unique titles internally, then select the closest representative title that is commonly used across the job market and use that as a placeholder to pull in quality candidates.
Pick a job title that accurately describes the work that will be done in the position. Consider the following before choosing your title:
What level of role is it?
Will they be leading a team?
Will they be self-reliant or work in a team?
What time of the day will they be expected to work?
What specific work will they be responsible for doing in your company?
These are all questions that must be considered when deciding on a title. Remember, people search for jobs on job boards based on the job title they want. If you make it too unique no one will know what the position is or does.
P.S. Keep it short! Have the title be between 1 and 4 words.
Due to the nature of IT roles focusing on specific niches, the niche must be represented in the title. For example, if you are posting a position for a Software Manager, specify what type of software they will be responsible for. As stated previously, the job title in the job posting does not have to be the same as the internal job title. Make the public title something your ideal candidate may search for.
Example: If I am searching for a Software Manager who will be developing my organization’s Social Media Scheduling Software then instead of posting a job post for a Software Manager I will instead post it under, Social Media Scheduling Software Manager.
Your job title tickled the candidate’s interest enough to draw them to click on your job post, GREAT JOB!
The Job Purpose is the next step of the equation. Here you will describe their role in your
company and why you need the role filled. Keep this section to around a paragraph, 3 to 5 sentences. It will be a high-level overview of the role where they will get a deep dive into understanding how they fit in your company.
Do you remember those questions I asked you regarding the job title? Those will be used here as well but in greater depth. Answer each of the above questions here in the job purpose. Remember you want it short and to the point but in-depth enough that they can get a feel for the role.
The job purpose is a great spot to explain the advanced technical applications your ideal candidate should be familiar with. Be upfront about what the true purpose of the role is because you want your ideal candidate to be able to meet your needs.
Example: If you are hiring for a Chief Digital Officer, what specific digital tools, platforms, technologies, services, and processes will they be expected to work with or implement? The Chief Digital Officer will oversee XYZ Company’s digital information and advanced technologies to support all IoT projects increasing business value.
Duties & Responsibilities
In this section, you will be listing all the physical tasks you want the individual to accomplish in the role. This portion is going to be longer than the others as you will be listing out specific job tasks and functions. You will also discuss things like how large the team they will be working on or leading is, their working conditions, and the actual tasks they will be doing. It is important to not only consider where your company is currently but also where it is heading. For example, the current role will be leading a team of 5 team members to accomplish the company’s objective, but in the next year you know that operationally that team may expand to 25 team members so include that information. This is where you should list every task they will or could potentially do in the position.
Many organizations will end this section with a statement along the lines of, “Additional duties may be assigned at company discretion”. You can do this but it is best to list all the tasks they will be expected to do so there is no confusion or dissatisfaction from either side regarding additional tasks not being done if they weren’t listed clearly.
Write down absolutely everything that you need the position to do. After completing your list, combine similar tasks, and small tasks. This list should have around 5 to 10 points.
Executive and C-Suite roles vary greatly based on the organization. Smaller organizations will require much more operational oversight and direct management while a larger organization will have a much higher strategic impression. Your expectations should be listed as this will be the meat and potatoes of what your ideal candidate will do. At this point, your ideal candidate should have already found the position, understood the high-level overview of what the position entails, and is now reading exactly what they will be expected to do. At this stage use specific terminology that only your ideal candidate will understand. If you want a Subject Matter Expert then they should already understand common terms in the field. If you want to hire someone you can train, then you should not use technical terms they may not understand.
Example: If looking to hire an AI/ML Engineer, one of the duties could be to lead a team performing software engineering and technical activities in the area of AI/ML reusable models.
This section will be split into two lists, Required Qualifications and Preferred Qualifications. The first are the critical skills, knowledge, or abilities that the individual MUST have to be considered for the position. The second list, preferred qualifications, includes things you’d like to see your ideal candidate possess.
The qualifications should fit the job title and duties. What does someone need to succeed in this particular role? What working and general knowledge will be needed for this role? Consider various aspects including basic principles or problems they will be expected to solve, the knowledge they will be expected to already have, and the licenses or certifications needed for the role. Think about what Education, Experience, and Knowledge your perfect, ideal candidate possesses.
Take a second to consider what the perfect candidate would look like on paper. What credentialing, knowledge, and experience should they have? Now write out every single thing that comes to mind. Afterward, separate your wants vs. your needs. Finally, combine similar points to keep your lists within 3 to 7 points for both Required and Preferred Qualifications.
When making your lists consider if you are willing to train them or if they should already be a master. Due to organizations having their specific software and applications, it may be impossible to expect someone to be familiar with your organization’s specific in-house applications but they could have used something similar.
Example: For a Senior Software Engineer, Back End, Java, AWS role with XYZ company, the candidate is required to have: 5 years of experience in at least one of the following: Java, Python. 1 year of experience with AWS, GCP, Microsoft Azure, or another cloud service. The ideal candidate will also have the following preferred qualifications: 3 years of experience in open-source frameworks and 2 years of experience in Agile practices. Bachelor of Science in IT.
Your ideal candidate, found your job post, understands the role, understands what they will be required to do, knows what qualifications they need to be selected, and now wants to know more about your company itself. This portion will keep your organization compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act as you will list the type, intensity, frequency, and duration of physical or mental capabilities required for the role. It is important to list things that they may be expected to do even if it is not something that will be required of them consistently.
Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal candidate after they have already been selected and are doing the job. What physical aspects will they be responsible for doing? Write them all down. This can include things like restocking printer paper, walking to other departments, going to the roof or basement, etc.
IT is quite interesting in that if you are not working in the field you don’t realize how much physical activity may be involved. Use the Duties & Responsibilities section to help you think of what to include here. Will they be required to go outdoors or in an office? Will they experience any hazardous materials, noise pollution, extreme heat, or cold? Climbing, standing, typing, and other physical requirements. What would they be lifting, is it over 10, 20, or 50 pounds? What time will they be required to work, weekends, nights, on call? Are they going to need to travel?
Example: Our Network Support Manager may be required to assist in repairing printers, outfitting PC builds, cable management, and phone provisioning. This may require them to be on their feet for more than 60 minutes at a time, lift up to 50 pounds, bend and kneel throughout the day, and be in areas with dust and other pollutants. This position will also be on call and expected to work certain weekends and holidays. Travel will be required to various other locations on a case-by-case basis.
Now you know what you need to write your very own Job Description:
Job Title, Job Purpose, Job Duties & Responsibilities, Qualifications, and Working Conditions.
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