Common pitfalls of Job Descriptions ( With questionnaire guide to write it excellently!)

JD for job ads

Kindly share:

Table of Contents

So, you are about to hire, and you are scratching your head on how to write a job description that attracts and accurately portrays your opening. Job description writing pitfalls are common and many small business owners and HR Managers struggle with this task.

A job description can be a relatively easy document to prepare, we’ll show you the pitfalls to avoid and the tips and tricks to write an effective one. We’ll touch on style, content, grammar, and organization of your job description.

Why bother about effective Job descriptions?

Recruiting and building a strong team is a complete endeavor starting from your HR/Employee plan, decision to hire, job descriptions, where you can get top candidates from, job description, shortlisting, interviewing, onboarding, training and growth. Missing the job description step could hamper your talent strategy.

Here are five reasons why Job descriptions matter.

  • It is  the first thing a prospective candidate sees. A poorly written job description can turn away otherwise suitable and excellent candidates.
  • They give an indication of the suitable candidate in terms of knowledge, experience, skills and values. It helps an organization to recruit candidates that fit their vision.
  • The job description will guide the work a prospective employee will be doing when recruited. It therefore helps in the growth and career planning and development of the employee.
  • Job description guide the recruitment process during shortlisting, interviewing and making decisions
  • A job description projects the recruitment brand of an organization. A well-crafted job description often distinguishes mediocre from exceptional employers.

Are you looking to recruit? Post a job on our website and reach thousands of visitors a day!


What to avoid when writing a Job description

There are some common writing errors that make your job descriptions ineffective and unattractive. Here are 11 things that could make your job description ineffective.

1. Short job description

The first pitfall in the worse job descriptions are the ones that are too short. I have seen job descriptions that are less than a paragraph and it immediately tells me these folks are not organized or serious about talent in their organization. Not worth working with such organizations.

2. Too long a job description

The second pitfall is a job description that is too long, winding and often not clear. An associate recently saw a job description that was ten pages long. It is also a job description killer to write an article that is too long and unclear. Keep is clear


3. Negative words

Some job descriptions are written with negative words that strike the wrong tone. Using words like ‘must’, ‘never’, ‘always’, ‘strict’, ‘can’t’ and so on. Instead, use words that don’t feel absolute or like you are giving orders.

4. Grammatical errors/formatting problems

The job description should be well formatted, edited for errors and inaccurate facts and for grammatical errors. Reading a job description that has challenges with grammar and formatting makes your organization come across as incompetent.

5. Using too many Acronyms

The use of too many acronyms could confuse readers of your job description. If you want to use acronyms be sure to give the full meaning in at least one instance at the top, then you can use it subsequently.

6. Vagueness

A job description that is not well thought out usually shows vagueness and lack of clarity. It usually stems from a job description that is written without the organizational vision in mind and how the prospect will fit into the overall vision.

7. No background of the organization

It is important for the job description to project your organization. Remember your recruitment should also be helping you build your brand. Beyond just mentioning you background, tell the story of your purpose and mission and what keeps your team together.

8. No deadline and how to apply

I have seen dozens of job descriptions without a deadline for application. Some job descriptions also have how to apply not clearly stated or conflicting. When writing a job description be sure to put a deadline and make your application mode simple and clear.

9. No salary expectation/benefits

There are job descriptions that set no salary expectation which can be a disincentive for high caliber candidates. It should rather be a pull factor to state the salary and benefits package.

10. Using third person language

The third person language is common in job adverts yet it’s not best practice. It doesn’t feel personal and it tends to make the organization distant. The job description should be friendly and rapport building.

It’s best to stick to first and second person with plenty of ‘you’ and ‘we’ in both the job description and the job advertisement.

11. Unrealistic expectations

The Expectations of the job should be reasonable. The skills and talents sought should be broken into required and desired. Even then it should be reasonable and not putting three jobs on one person.

questions guide for job description

Questionnaire to guide your Job Description Preparation.

To guide in your job description development, the following questions will be useful

The company

  1. Which industry is your organization?
  2. How long have you been in the industry?
  3. What have been your key successes?
  4. What is your human resources philosophy?

Job Background

  1. What is the role you’re advertising?
  2. Why are you recruiting for the role?
  3. How does the role fit in the overall vision of your organization?
  4. Who will the position be reporting to?


  1. What are the core duties of the position?
  2. What are the key tasks?
  3. What percentage of time will be spent on the duties and task?
  4. How does the position sync with other roles?



  1. How many years of experience is required for this job?
  2. What kind of industry experience is relevant to the job?
  3. What are the required experiences for the job?
  4. What are the desired experiences?



  1. What are the minimum educational qualifications of the job?
  2. What is the required education?
  3. What is the desired education?

Skills & Competencies

  1. What are the skills required for the job?
  2. What competencies and behaviors are required or desired for the job?
  3. What values must candidates possess?


Other requirements

  1. What post qualification experiences are required?
  2. What evidence is required for education and experience?


Salary and Compensation

  1. What is the salary expectation – minimum and maximum?
  2. What are the other benefits on the job?

How to apply

  1. How would you receive applications?
  2. How can candidates get more information?
  3. When is the deadline for applications?


Wrapping it all up!

So now you have it – pitfalls to avoid and best practices to incorporate. Additionally, the questions guide will help you guide your thought processes to write great job descriptions. The job description is your first contact with prospective employees, let the first impression count and tell your story well to win the best talent for your team.

Subscribe to our employers newsletter and download a free Job Description template!

Nicholas Guribie
Nicholas Guribie

Leave a Reply

Subscribe for Fresh Career &Success Updates

Grab a career Plan template now!