There is significant competition for top talent in the financial services space. Writing a standout job description is an essential step toward attracting the right individuals to join your company.
When you have the appropriate requirements matched to a list of tasks you want your new employee to perform, you will be more likely to bring in someone who is both qualified and excited about the position. The best job descriptions do much more than help you locate ideal candidates. They also:
• Put expectations in place for what the employee should be doing on a daily basis
• Help you hold the employee accountable for the tasks they are to perform
• Are the foundation for performance expectations and reviews
• Act as a reference point for the candidate’s future career advancement at your company
There are three main parts to a job description: 1) a summary of the role, 2) the list of qualities/experience the candidate must have for the role, and 3) the role’s responsibilities/duties. Your job description should be practical, clear and to the point. Below, we will discuss how to come up with the description and put your ideas into the right structure.
Writing the Description
Begin with the Ideal: Imagine your ideal employee for this role, and turn that picture into a wish list of tasks and qualities. First, write the job title at the top of the page then jot down all of the tasks you want the employee to accomplish in this role. Next, think about the skills your future employee needs to complete these tasks (writing skills, public speaking abilities, well-versed in Word/Excel, etc.), and any degrees or licenses they must hold. Also consider the qualities you want your future employee to have (organized, detail-oriented, personable, etc.). Write all these down, starring the especially important ones.
Narrow it Down to Essentials: You often need to take your wish list and pare it down to something more realistic. For example, if you want your employee to be creative and have the ability to think outside the box, leave qualities like “analytical” or “well organized” off the list. Or, finding someone who could—or would want to—do financial planning as well as administrative work would be a stretch.
Narrow down your brainstorm list to include everything you absolutely must have in an employee for him or her to be effective in the role, using your starred items to guide you. Leave the nice-to-haves off the official job description, but keep them in your notes to consider as you interview candidates.
Structuring the Description
The Essentials: Now that you have the basis for your job description, you can put your brainstorming list into the right structure. At the very top of the page, write the job title, salary range, position location, manager (or whomever the individual will report to) and department (if applicable).
The Summary Paragraph: This paragraph should appear at the top of the page, right below the essential facts of the job, and give candidates a good overview of the position’s purpose and responsibilities. For example, “The Administrative Assistant will support a team of three financial advisors to help ensure high-quality client service” would be a good starting sentence. Only two to three sentences are needed for the summary, but it should be compelling and offer them insight on the impact they will make to the firm.
The Requirements: This is your list of qualities and skills you want your candidate to have. Leave the word “required” off the end of each bullet point, as this should be implied if you are using a heading such as “Job Requirements.” Some things to consider including are:
• Knowledge of specific technologies or systems
• Degrees and licenses
• Years of experience in the industry or in specific roles
• Knowledge areas, such as financial planning or tax
The Task List: Title this last section something like “Position Responsibilities” and include every task the individual will perform in the role, as well as what systems or methods they will use to complete the tasks. For example, “Completes financial plans for each client using eMoney financial planning software.”
This list should also give candidates a better idea of where they will fit in the company. For example, “Works under the direction of lead advisors to build client presentations based on financial plans.”
Use bullet points that aren’t complete sentences, leaving off the subject. For example, “Handles client communications, including phone calls, emails and letters.”
What Not to Include
There are several items you should leave out of your job description, including:
• Instructions for how to do the job – This will happen in onboarding and training
• Opinions or recommendations – For example, you don’t want to say, “This role is challenging, but can be exciting for the right candidate”
• Tasks the candidate won’t do
• Abbreviations, acronyms or technical terms, unless understanding of these is a requirement
• Gendered pronouns
• Adverbs or adjectives that could be interpreted differently – For example, “occasional,” “frequently,” “some”
Wrap it Up
Once complete, read through your description to make sure it accurately describes the target employee and the tasks they will complete. Consider it with an eye toward future performance reviews. If there are too many responsibilities on the description, the employee will likely fail to live up to your expectations. On the other hand, if there aren’t enough responsibilities listed, you may be unable to hold the individual accountable for tasks you expect them to complete.
The process of writing a job description requires having a clear understanding of the job’s duties and responsibilities along with a concise picture of the skills required for the position. A well-defined job description will help attract the best candidates and help keep them in your firm long-term.