Job descriptions and role advertising

Your job description is a specific document which is drafted to be internal, but is also shared externally to prospective applicants; this is a critical juncture where the document has to pass the credibility test. 

The advert, because it is a public ‘teaser’, is more of a marketing document, therefore it is a little looser on the detail and aimed to appeal more broadly in order to invite applications.  It does require, however, some key criteria for assessing candidates, which may be provided as an addendum to the job description, this will allow internal and external recruiters the opportunity to properly assess applicants in line with the recruiting manager’s expectations.  

The recruiting manager should be open to advert responses, because of the looser parameters they may challenge original assumptions – this can better guide the job description and advert drafting in the future.   

The documents should have some key consistencies.


The tone of these documents need to:

  1. Reflect the real needs of the role, not feature corporate speak, in-house language, or acronyms
  2. Be honest – challenges are better expressed up front rather come as surprises by the appointee on day 1 of the job
  3. Be attractive and appealing – assume that you have to try hard to find the best, which is the reality – mediocrity is never in short supply. This principle is key for attraction (i.e. job adverts), but is often forgotten about in retention (i.e. in job descriptions and development reviews).  Its inclusion can rekindle the passion for the role that first attracted a long-serving incumbent to take it in the first place.


Both job descriptions, assessment criteria and adverts need to have content broken into key parts:

  1. The job role or title featured early, clearly (plainly) and prominently. It helps for this to be as consistent as possible with industry norms, individuals often check their career progress against their peers by such simple measurements
  2. Organisation, current situation and goals
  3. Role context, targets and reporting
  4. Person skill set and requirements
  5. It needs to conform to SMART principles: Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Relevant; Tangible.  It must be legally and corporately compliant (i.e. legal and not contrary to corporate policy) in the HQ country and in the operating country

Be ready with follow-up information:

  • Organisational charts
  • Specifics on number of direct reports, direct and indirect reporting lines
  • Pictures, videos, internet links, narrative on working and living environments. Often resources which are informal and online are more impactive, as they are more ‘fly-on-the-wall’ i.e. more spontaneous and transparent
  • Role targets, budgets and key goals and/or challenges
  • Full remuneration details including residency and relocation packages, fly-in, fly-out (including class of travel and whose time such travel is on), bonuses and incentives

Things to watch out for:

  1. Current: If you publish incorrect information, conduct a slow or unreasonably laborious or repetitive process and interview poorly, news will get around your pool of possible candidates and will affect the result
  2. Previous: If the previous or current incumbent has been poorly dealt with, paid late, or been badly managed, this will be known to some applicants and will affect the result.  Exit interviews can provide some very important information for recruiting replacements, while you may be in breach of contractural, legal obligations or stated corporate values by mismanaging an incumbent out of a role
  3. The reveal: the further an applicant goes through the process, they will want to be included more and more with a greater level of detail.  You must be ready to provide information which is appropriate for mutual engagement to that stage in the process.
  4. Reputations: the recruitment process has a very direct impact on corporate reputation – make sure that the tone and content of your recruitment contributes positively and is also consistent with your talent management policies and principles.

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