Guidance on Writing Job Descriptions
The job description is a detailed description of the role, including all responsibilities, objectives, and requirements. Included in this document is the person specification which is a profile of your ideal employee, including skills and experience. The job description forms the baseline against which you measure an individual’s performance and decide who to recruit.
When writing the job description, keep the focus on the duties and responsibilities of the position, as opposed to the personal characteristics of the person performing the job.
Ensure to keep your language gender neutral and it is essential that your job description does not inadvertently discriminate on grounds of gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, or health. You can do this by avoiding any inappropriate requirements, e.g., “must have x years’ experience” or words such as “dynamic” or “mature”. You may find it helpful to use Textio, a writing-enhancement service, which will highlight jargon and help ensure that your language is accessible and as inclusive as possible e.g., flagging words which particularly appeal to male candidates.
Use interesting, engaging words to provide more information about the duties and skills required by the individual but do not exaggerate and avoid using jargon wherever possible.
Consider if it is feasible to use an existing College Job Description which you can adapt to reflect any specific requirements for your area. You can access these via the Colleges Jobs Webpage or contact email@example.com
1. Job Title: Make job titles specific. Targeted job titles are more effective than generic ones, so be precise by including key phrases that accurately describe the role. Keep job titles clear, concise, and fit for purpose. People tend to search terms they know and recognise. If the role is specialized, consider including the specialization in the title. Avoid internal jargon that may confuse people including abbreviations and acronyms. Do not stray from standard College common job titles, if possible. In summary:
a. Job titles should be clear and meaningful and relevant to the grade. (See examples below)
b. A job title must reflect job family of the role and/or not appear to contradict its context e.g. a role in an academic job family should not have research in its job title.
c. Avoid acronyms and jargon.
d. Consider if people working outside Imperial College will understand the job title.
e. Help to make job titles meaningful by including the area of work e.g. Research Associate in Quantum Information.
f. Ensure the title reflects the grade:
- do not call a role a manager if it is not managing staff, a service, resources etc.
- “Director” and “Head of” roles should be the exception and only for roles at bands 5/6.
- Typically, professional roles graded 3 or lower should be administrators or assistants
g. If in doubt, please raise with firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Job Family/Level: State the appropriate job family and level/grade of role. For new posts or when a job description undergoes significant changes, this will need to be verified by Job Evaluation.
3. Reporting line and working relationships: Include who the post holder reports to and any line management. Also working relationships internally and externally and whether post holder has dotted line elsewhere. Note that in most cases there should only be one line manager.
4. Contract Type: Clearly specify whether the post is full time or part time; fixed term i.e. 12 months/1 year and FTE/hours, or if there is a requirement to work evening or weekends or cover rota. Take this opportunity to think carefully about flexibility in this section as it can be an important tool to help you attract a more diverse applicant pool. Allowing for flexibility in the work pattern will help you attract a diverse range of candidates.
5. Campus Location: Provide the exact campus and whether there is a requirement to travel to different locations. You can also flag here the option for remote/hybrid working. This will also help you attract a diverse pool of candidates.
1. PURPOSE OF THE POST – JOB SUMMARY:
Open with a strong, attention-grabbing summary: This should provide an overview of your Department/Institute/Group and expectations for the postholder. Outline the types of activities and responsibilities required so people can determine if they are qualified, or if the job is a good fit. As the job description is an introduction to the College, include details about the College/Department’s culture to sum up why a candidate would want to work here. Explain how the position fits into the College and how they will function within your Department/Institute/Group, in a way that will help the individual see the bigger picture and understand how the role impacts on the College. Try to include a statement about the need to operate in line with our values – we care about not just what you do but how you do it. Mention how the values would impact upon the duties and how the role would be expected to demonstrate the department/College values e.g., this post sits at the intersection between Finance and HR, so you must be committed to collaborating across teams to deliver a timely and accurate service.
Example Purpose of the Post Statement
Imperial has more than 230,000 alumni, forming an international community of outstanding scientists, engineers, medical professionals, and business leaders. Alumni have a crucial role to play in supporting the College’s long-term success, and can benefit themselves from a global, vibrant alumni community supported by services, activities, events, and communications as well as from the strong reputation of the College. It is a key goal of the College to build a stronger, more engaged alumni community and to provide excellent support through a mutually beneficial relationship.
This post holder will help to build a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with our UK and international alumni groups and networks, as well as Constituency College Associations. We look to our global community to help build regional communities of alumni, open doors or raise the profile of Imperial College, support recruitment and the student experience. We seek to support their network activities in a variety of ways, to share College research and strategy, and facilitate the exchange of best practice between groups.
The post holder will be the group’s first point of contact and will provide relevant guidance and support to help groups to deliver their activities, events, and other initiatives, aligned with the Alumni Relations Strategy. The post holder will also ensure that there is adequate stewardship of these volunteers. The post holder will work closely with the Director of Alumni Relations and other members of the Alumni Relations team, as well as relevant internal stakeholders at the College.
It is essential that the post holder has experience of working with international partners and be sensitive to different cultural norms. The post holder needs experience of managing a networks or groups programme, which should include experience of creating annual plans, setting targets, demonstrating impact and reporting on progress. This position will require excellent oral and written communication skills and strong attention to detail. Post holders will need to demonstrate experience of engaging volunteers both through in person and online initiatives.
This position requires the ability to develop a positive rapport with individuals, work very collaboratively, demonstrate strong influencing skills and the ability to work with and inspire senior staff and management to support our programmes; the person will need to manage sensitive relationships with high profile volunteers. An outstanding approach to customer service is essential. The post holder will need to have good project management skills, the ability to prioritise and demonstrate a high degree of flexibility. The post-holder will be expected to understand the overall strategic objectives of the Alumni Relations Office and the Advancement Division and how this role contributes to the achievement of these objectives.
2. KEY RESPONSIBILITIES:
- Here you should outline the core functions this role will perform on a regular basis. Make sure your list of responsibilities is detailed but concise. Also emphasise the duties that may be unique to the Department. For example, if you are hiring for an ‘Event Management’ role and the role requires social media expertise to promote events, include this detail to ensure candidates understand the requirements and can determine if they are qualified. It is important that you are as clear as possible around the knowledge that is required, level of problem solving, level of accountability etc., to help the candidate understand the role and for the job evaluation proces
✓ Develop innovative network troubleshooting methods to reduce downtime and lower repair costs
✓ Responsible for creating and administrating disaster plans to keep the college functional in the event of a crisis
✓ Work closely with departmental managers to determine maintenance and growth needs of the network
- Highlight the day-to-day activities of the role. This will help candidates understand the work environment and the activities they will be exposed to daily. This level of detail will help the individual determine if the role is suitable for their experience.
- Specify how the role fits into the Department/College. Indicate who the person reports to and how they will function within your department. Help individuals see the bigger picture and understand how the role impacts on the College.
- Help individuals get a feel for the scale of the role by including context e.g., size of budget, number of customers, volume of business, direct reports etc. Include details such as the frequency and scale of tasks and activities e.g., annual College wide survey of all staff.
- Order the list of duties by importance - make sure the most crucial parts of the role are at the top of the list. Consider using percentages to show the actual proportion how the duties are split.
- Values – mention how they would impact upon the duties and how the role would be expected to demonstrate the Department/College values e.g., this post sits at the intersection between Finance and HR, so you must be committed to collaborating across teams to deliver a timely and accurate service. There is no need to explicitly mention the values in every duty but consider how the duty is worded and described to ensure it reflects our values, and if possible, show how it contributes to them.
- Specific/Unusual Requirements - make sure you mention anything that is important for the role to deliver and/or might be specific for that role e.g., This post is responsible for the monthly spending report for the senior management team.
Experience/Knowledge/Skills & Abilities
Ensure this accurately describes the type of person you need for the role.
The characteristics specified must be relevant, clear, demonstrable and avoid bias in wording. Consider carefully how you will assess each criterion e.g., interview, application form, test, etc.
The job description should specify education, previous job experience, certifications and technical skills required for the role. You should also include soft skills, like communication and problem solving, that are required.
Do not specify a minimum number of years' experience in job descriptions. Stating a requirement to have a minimum number of years' experience/previous service is potentially indirect age discrimination. Instead, describe the type of experience you require e.g., experience of working in a complex and large (10,000+ employees) organisation.
Keep your list concise. Do not try to list every requirement.
Professional membership where relevant, e.g., CIPD, state this requirement and if possible, list equivalents e.g., CIMA/ACCA/CIPFA.
Ensure your criteria is objective, specific and measurable. Avoid descriptions like good communication skills, instead explain/set the context of the skills you require e.g., ability to effectively communicate with different audiences of varying seniority, experience of managing a budget in excess of £100,000.
- Specific/Unusual Requirements - make sure you mention anything that is important for the role to deliver and might impact upon an individual’s ability to do the job e.g., requirement to travel (frequency/where), unsocial hours (frequency/when/how many), driving licence.
Candidates/post holders will be expected to demonstrate the following:
|Experience implementing an Applicant Tracking System solution for a complex and demanding organisation.||E|
|Experience of working in a large and complex matrix organisation (5,000+ employees)||E|
|Experience of implementing an ERP (Enterprise resource planning) project||D|
|Experience of ensuring data integrity/compliance within an applicant tracking system||E|
|Experience of working within a devolved recruitment model||D|
|An understanding of the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion in recruitment, and a firm commitment to working in an inclusive manner||E|
|Current knowledge of recruitment best practice and market trends||E|
|Strong working knowledge of maintaining and developing applicant tracking systems, on-line HR systems, and their implementation.||E|
|Skills & Abilities|
|Strong influencing skills, the ability to build trust with multiple stakeholders, all of whom have competing priorities||D|
|Ability to explain technical terms and language in a clear and understandable manner to a lay audience.||E|
|Able to deliver training to a diverse audience (HR, hiring managers etc.)||D|
|Ability to analyse and communicate data in meaningful and accessible information/reports that can be used to drive business/organisational decisions||D|
|Confident engaging with internal and external stakeholders across all levels, including at a senior level||D|
|Able to prioritise own workload and able to work without close supervision||E|
Essential and Desirable Criteria
The person specification should realistically and objectively describe the type of person, in terms of capabilities and other relevant factors, who could best perform the job to be filled.
The required characteristics should be classified as "essential" or "desirable". You must take care to ensure that such classifications do not directly or indirectly discriminate against any group, for example women, men, or people from ethnic minority groups.
For the purposes of the Person Specification, essential means it is necessary that the individual meets this requirement. Essential criteria refer to the minimum skills, abilities, knowledge, experience, and professional qualifications (degrees, diplomas, etc.) required for the role.
Essential criteria are non-negotiable and individuals who do not meet these basic requirements cannot undertake all the duties required for this role.
For the purposes of the Person Specification, desirable refers to criteria that are important, but not essential for an individual to perform the duties of the role. They are criteria that an individual can develop while they are in post through training and other developmental type activities.
REMEMBER As essential and desirable criteria will help you shortlist candidates it is important that you do not overstate the need for essential criteria AND you are clear on how you will evaluate them.
Your criteria will have a significant impact upon a candidate’s decision to apply. This could limit the applicant pool in terms of diversity (people self-selecting) so ensure your criteria are relevant, justifiable, and reasonable. If you are in doubt if a criterion should be essential, you can discuss this with the Recruitment Hub.
Standard College Statements to include:
At the end of your job description please ensure you include the following statements:
Please note that job descriptions cannot be exhaustive, and the post-holder may be required to undertake other duties, which are broadly in line with the above key responsibilities.
Imperial College is committed to equality of opportunity and to eliminating discrimination. All employees are expected to follow the Imperial Values & Behaviours framework. Our values are:
Employees are also required to comply with all College policies and regulations paying special attention to: Confidentiality, Conflict of Interest, Data Protection, Equal Opportunities, Financial Regulations, Health and Safety, Information Technology, Smoking, Private Engagements and Register of Interests. They must also undertake specific training and assume responsibility for safety relevant to specific roles, as set out on the College Website Health and Safety Structure and Responsibilities page.
We are committed to equality of opportunity, to eliminating discrimination and to creating an inclusive working environment for all. We therefore encourage candidates to apply irrespective of age, disability, marriage or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion and belief, gender identity, sex, or sexual orientation. We are an Athena SWAN Silver Award winner, a Disability Confident Leader and a Stonewall Diversity Champion.
Useful sources of information:
Imperial Values and Behaviours Framework