The purpose of a job description in 2024

The purpose of a job description in 2024

Traditionally, a job description’s purpose has always been to provide candidates with enough information about a vacancy for them to decide if it matches their profile. It would achieve this by outlining the job’s core responsibilities along with the requirements that the company expected of their ideal candidate. Two key sections, each one simple enough but both looking at the job application process as a one-way street, where the company holds all the power and the candidate holds none.

This, of course, is no longer true. Far from it, in fact. 2021 was the year of the great resignation, where people quit their jobs at historic rates, meaning that the purpose of a job description has changed significantly, and it's more important than ever for companies to take these new trends into account to avoid losing good talent.

The importance of a job description to your company

A job description isn’t just where you dump a position’s responsibilities and requirements and call it a day; it’s also a candidate’s first experience of dealing with your company. With candidates at all levels currently in high demand—especially experienced candidates—you can’t afford to make a poor first impression. That’s where your job description comes in.

The great resignation might have shaken up the hiring market, but it was set in motion by the pandemic and how it forced people to evaluate their relationship to work. And a takeaway that a lot of people came out with was that they wanted more flexibility. If your job description doesn’t mention any added flexibility that your company has introduced since the pandemic, then you risk losing candidates before they’ve even applied.

So, what is a job description’s purpose in 2024?

  • To accurately describe the job you’re hiring for. Be truthful and honest here; it benefits you and the candidate after all.
  • To provide a list of requirements that applicants must have. In order to provide the best candidate experience, split these up into “Essential” and “Bonus” sections.
  • To give each candidate an understanding of the company they’ll be joining. Explain what you do, what your mission is, and what the culture within the company is like.
  • To be clear about your employment offer. Define what contract type you’re offering, the hours per week, and if there are any exceptions to this.
  • To describe the application process. Candidates don’t want to send off an application and have no idea what will happen next, so it’s important to outline when decisions at each stage will be made.
  • To not put off any group from applying. The language you use matters; it’s been proven that gendered language on job descriptions attracts and repels certain groups. Using something as simple as a gender decoder ensures your job ad appeals to everybody.
  • To make it clear what candidates should apply with. This might just be a standard resume and cover letter, but it should still be made clear.

The good news is we have plenty of actionable advice that you can take to achieve this. The steps below don’t all have to be implemented at the same time — they can be introduced in stages or only in certain disciplines, but we’re certain they’ll help. And if you’re unsure how to build one of the findings into your process, reach out to us!

1 - Answer questions

Throughout your job description, you need to be answering questions that a potential candidate might have about your company or job. Where are you in your journey, what does the job really entail, and what exactly are you offering in return? Being reluctant to share information as a company—while demanding it from candidates—is an outdated practise that is on its last legs. As more companies increase their transparency, those that remain closed off are going to lose out on talent.

2 - Be specific with salary

Nowadays, saying that the salary on offer is ‘competitive’ is not enough. Recruitment is finally becoming more of a two-way street, and being open about the salary you can offer people is a big part of this. It allows candidates to properly consider the job, especially if they’re already employed and are job seeking on the side, and gives them context on how much your other, non-monetary benefits mean to them. And here’s something to consider: if you’re struggling to attract mid to senior-level candidates in particular, these are the people you’ll be turning away the most by hiding salary information.

3 - Specify your stance on remote/flexible working

While working from home isn’t for everyone, the last few years have shown us that it is possible. It doesn't necessarily affect productivity and many companies thrive with fully remote teams. So, it’s important to be crystal clear if remote or hybrid working is a possibility in your company. If not, explain why. And if the job is flexible, tell people to what extent and how current employees operate in this framework.

4 - Use gender decoders

Gender-neutral job descriptions not only mean making sure you’ve described the role in the most inclusive way possible, but also that you’re aware of how language—essentially your company voice—has an effect on your audience and whether or not it fundamentally attracts or excludes certain groups of people.

5 - Consider future responsibilities

A good job description doesn’t just tell a candidate what they’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis, but also what will be expected of them in the future. Provide information about what this position might evolve into and what say candidates have in terms of where to take it.

6 - Understand that different jobs need different approaches

While your job descriptions might all share an “About the company” section, among others, it’s important not to get pigeon-holed into one template for all of your roles. In your junior job openings, for example, the responsibilities you list are likely to be quite granular; tasks that you can define easily, because you know largely what this person is expected to do on a day-to-day.

In your more senior positions, this is likely to change. If you’re hiring a department lead, then a key responsibility will be building the department and setting relevant goals for the team, but you’re probably not able to define what these will be yet. That’s fine, because jobs at different levels and at different departments are bound to vary in what can be said about them.


If you keep all of the above in mind when you’re writing your next job description, then you should produce something that gives candidates everything they need to apply and supports your recruitment team by sending them a funnel of relevant applicants.