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How To Write a Great Job Description

· Recuiting

In a nutshell, a great Job Description should concurrently excite yet screen candidates. You want to sell and differentiate the position from the scores of others, but you also want it to accurately portray your requirements so only qualified candidates apply.About 50% of the time, I find job descriptions to be inaccurate. For example, I get a JD for a VP, Engineering.It has a list of about 100 Must Have requirements. Then I call the CEO to discuss the position. In the course of the conversation, it turns out that they really only need 10 key items in their background, and the priority order listed in the JD is backwards.You will rule out the right people and attract the wrong people if the JD does not reflect your actual needs.

There should be 4 main parts to your Job Description:

  • Big Picture – this should be a short and sweet paragraph that gives an overview of the position.
  • Job Responsibilities – what will the person be responsible for both tactically/day to day, as well as strategically/on the big picture front.
  • Requirements – Do not put a laundry list of 5,000 things. The “Must Haves” should really be the “Must Haves”. As in there is not a chance that you would hire the person without these skills. Then you can go crazy in the “Nice to Have” section.
  • Company Info/Sell Points – another short and sweet paragraph that gives the key sell points of the position - great investors or advisors, funding or profitability, cutting edge technology, great benefits/ability to telecommute, etc. This is where you should include your company’s culture – what makes you different, what are your values, what’s the soul of your compay.

Please see the following example that I wrote for a client, to get a sense of how the final product should look.

Job Description Example

Company A is a funded startup with excellent advisors including X, Y and Z. We are seeking our first VP of Engineering to lead our development efforts. The successful candidate will fill a key leadership role, and will be integral in building out a team, planning, developing, testing and meeting all major development milestones. This candidate will help our company scale by creating the development roadmap for advanced feature sets and innovation, as well as providing day to day mentoring and leadership for our Engineering team that he/she will help build.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Validating application architecture for viability and scalability.
  • Building, mentoring and managing a team of Software Engineers.
  • Playing a key hands-on role in application architecture, design, coding, testing and launch.
  • Meeting delivery milestones.
  • Working with leadership to determine short-and long-term strategies and plans for growth.
  • Determine appropriate vendor/outsource relationships, negotiate and manage 3rd party agreements, and set/monitor SLAs.
  • Administrative duties including Budgeting, Performance Reviews, Managing Vendors.


The ideal candidate will have 6+ years’ experience in Software Engineering, currently serving as a hands-on technology leader. Your current day to day should be at least 75% hands on architecture, design and coding, with the balance being focused on mentoring/leading other engineers (hiring, code review, etc) and other leadership tasks. You must have experience scaling high volume sites, and SaaS is a big plus. The right candidate will understand the dedication, passion and sense of urgency that comes with the territory of building a company from the seed stage.

Our Technology Environment: Java, ReactJS, Go, Postgres, Native Mobile, iOS, AWS

Must Haves:

  • + years Software Engineering experience, with 2+ years of team leadership experience.
  • 2+ years recent hands-on experience with Java, ReactJS and/or GO (ideally all 3). Your current role must be at least 75% hands on.
  • High volume B2B environment experience, SaaS preferred.
  • Iterative approach (Agile).
  • Proven experience hiring, building and managing a team of top notch engineers.

Nice to Haves:

  • Automated Testing and Deployment.
  • Native mobile and/or iOS.
  • Startup or related high-growth experience.
  • Experience working with and managing vendors and third parties, including offshore.
  • BS, CS

What’s In It for You?:

  • Get in on the ground floor of an exciting new opportunity, and be the top of the technology totem pole. If you are ready to be the biggest technology fish in a very small pond, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
  • Have skin in the game with a significant equity stake.
  • The excitement of ground floor, coupled with cream of the crop investors and advisors.
  • Build your own team.
  • We have an amazing culture, driven by the values of integrity, diversity and honesty. We care deeply about our clients, and every step we take is propelled by giving them the best user experience. We take the same approach internally – we want each employee to have the best experience possible. We don’t cookie cut – you’ll never just be a number to us!
  • Competitive compensation, including base, bonus, equity and benefits.