Best Practices for Hospitality Job Descriptions

We recently had the pleasure of talking with Ken Burgin on his Profitable Hospitality podcast, having recently modernised their 24 downloadable job description (JD) library, about the value of effective JDs for hospitality operators. Ken believes, and we back this up, that only half of all hospitality businesses have and use JDs.

Job descriptions are unfortunately rarely embraced by managers and hirers. They can be viewed as a necessary evil and bureaucratic and are often either under-utilised or lack consistency in their application. Using them is a great and easy way to improve your business's HR maturity.

As a hospitality business owner or manager, taking an appreciative lens to job descriptions can help your business attract and retain top-performing talent. Thorough and thoughtful job descriptions make business management easier, less stressful and much more profitable for businesses. They’re a great tool to set clear expectations from the hiring process through to promoting current staff. Stellar job descriptions across the business at all levels and positions help with complete employee lifecycle: attracting, hiring, management, performance, learning and development, and succession.

Don’t let crafting effective job descriptions be a low priority. Use these best practice pointers to make them more useful for your business.

What to Include in Hospitality Job Descriptions

If you start a process of creating a job description with a clear understanding of what you’re looking for, you’ll get a better result. A carefully structured job description helps you focus on what is relevant to the role, what the job entails and what the person in the role should be delivering for the business. Be sure to:

  • Quickly convey what the purpose of the role is. It’s not just candidates who are competing with each other – your business is competing against other businesses to attract the best employees. A job description should clearly explain the role to hold the attention of the right candidates.
  • Summarise what the position will look like on a daily and long-term basis. Include a high-level view of what the role needs to deliver for the business. Cover internal and external relationships the role encounters, and where the person sits and functions within a business.
  • Use appropriate language and context. Junior, mid- and senior level positions may be working toward similar objectives, but the responsibility they have differs. While job descriptions for junior and senior positions may have similar language in the tasks that are focused on, junior role descriptions may use verbs like “follow” and “contribute,” versus senior level role descriptions that use verbs like “lead” and “mandate.”
  • Go beyond the basics. Most roles across hospitality businesses require similar skills, and roles like bartending and serving can be taught. You’re looking for a cultural fit for your positions, so think outside the box in what you post. If you’re looking for a bar manager, for example, a requirement such as “commercial savviness” conveys the person will be able to contribute more to the overall business.
  • Convey culture. Job descriptions should be contemporary and user-friendly, and those qualities give you the chance to show off the culture to candidates. Create job descriptions that allow the candidate to understand the environment they’ll be operating in, one that spotlights the business vision. Using descriptors like “will drive a harmonious environment among all staff” or “will be a true ambassador of the business at all time” show candidates you value teamwork and pride in the business.

You can also include a high-level view of key performance indicators in the job description, though it is better to discuss those in detail later on in the hiring process and work on them together with the candidate so a mutual agreement is made. This also helps staff who want to move into higher positions have a better understanding of senior roles.

What to Avoid in Hospitality Job Descriptions

A bad job description doesn’t just leave you unnoticed or turn off candidates. It leaves your business with an unclear view of what is expected of your staff. Make your job descriptions better by avoiding these mistakes:

  • Pasting an entire job description into an advertisement. This makes your job description look impersonal and more like a shopping list than something that’s attractive to top talent. Save minute details for later in the hiring process.
  • Using industry buzzwords. Inserting trendy language or HR jargon in job descriptions may not translate well to everyday candidates. You also run the risk of posting a job description that is similar to your competitors. Be genuine, and be unique.
  • Focusing on metrics over vision. Don’t make a job description all about numbers and increasing profits for your business. Instead of saying, “Must retain a 99% satisfaction rate on customer surveys,” write, “Must be passionate about enhancing the customer experience through genuine thoughtfulness, accurate and quick service, and anticipating customer needs before they are voiced.”

You can share a job description with those who are currently in the role to get their opinions and feedback. Make sure you also ask candidates you hire about their thoughts on the job description so you can continue optimising content.



Compelling job descriptions are only one part of successful recruitment for hospitality businesses. Download our free HR services fact sheet to learn more about how to avoid draining resources and increase hiring efficiency for your business.

BENCHMARQUE_Human_Resources_Fact_Sheet

About the author BENCHMARQUE

We publish article to inspire 100,000 people to join the hospitality industry before 2020. We produce content to support professional growth opportunities.

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