Seven dos & don’ts for writing an attractive entry-level job description

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Official statistics show that one in 10 young people in the UK are not in education, employment or training (Neet), despite overall employment rates hitting a record high.

According to a new study by charity Business in the Community, widespread business jargon could be one of the major barriers preventing young people from getting their foot on the career ladder.

Grace Mehanna, Youth Employment Director at the charity said: “Understanding jargon is not a measure of a young person’s potential or indication that they are a better candidate. We’re concerned that the prevalence of ‘business speak’ in job adverts aimed at first jobbers is a major barrier that could inadvertently screen out young people without access to working role models and networks.”

To help employers make their jobs more accessible to young people, we asked Grace for her top tips for writing an attractive and accessible entry-level job description. Here’s what she said:

  1. Do write out and explain acronyms in brackets e.g. ‘Using our CMS (content management system) which we use to manage the content on our website’.
  2. Don’t use niche operational acronyms which are not necessary for describing what a job involves on a practical level e.g. ‘SLA’ – this can simply be explained as ‘We have an agreement to deliver this service for our customers/colleagues’. 
  3. Do explain any qualifications young people will attain in the role e.g.‘You will gain the CILEX (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) Level 2 qualification, which is the first step to becoming a paralegal’ or ‘You will acquire your CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) Card which will give you the safety training needed to work on a construction site’
  4. Do ask the existing job holder to help you to write the job description to provide a good overview of what a role actually involves in terms of day-to-day tasks and responsibilities
  5. Do ask young people working in your organisation to review your job descriptions to help flag up any jargon and make sure they are clear.
  6. Don’t use long, abstract sentences which are more likely to become unclear and meaningless sentences e.g. ‘Query responses in adherence to SLAs and archiving conducted in accordance to file protocols' Translation: As part of the role you will reply to customers’ questions and record the details in our filing system.
  7. Do provide a ‘jargon buster’ section on your careers website to explain any industry jargon e.g. Explainer: This role will be based in the Procurement team. Procurement is the process of buying goods and services for the company. If you’re good at budgeting and like comparing products and services to decide what to buy, you’ll enjoy working in this area.

If you want to find out how accessible your recruitment process is to young people, contact Business in the Community for a free assessment and download their new guide for employers for tips and recommendations on attracting young talent.

About Grace Mehanna

Grace Mehanna, Youth Employment Campaign Director, Business in the Community

Grace Mehanna has been campaigning on good workplace practices for over 15 years.  She started her career in Race for Opportunity (RfO) which focuses on improving employment opportunities for ethnic minorities across the UK where she developed the Race benchmarking and a programme of events and networking opportunities for business. Grace then moved to BITC’s Workwell Campaign which was developed by international business leaders with the core purpose of creating happier and healthier workforces. This focused on encouraging businesses to support their employees and enable improved employee engagement and wellbeing and build business resilience, performance and productivity.  Grace took up the role of Campaign Director for the Youth Employment Campaign in 2015 which encourages businesses to create accessible and quality employment opportunities for all young people.

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