How To Write Great Job Descriptions For Blue-Collar Roles

The five most important things to include in a blue-collar job description with examples and downloadable templates.

Dara Dolinsky
August 18, 2020

As you look to start hiring, you’ll notice every job board advertises that they can get your open job posting in front of thousands of faces, but that isn’t really the issue at hand, is it? Using sites like Indeed, Monster, ZipRecruiter and Glassdoor has solved the problem of pulling in many applicants, but where do you find the good applicants? It turns out that good applicants are a function of a good job description.

Your job description should be detailed enough to let people disqualify themselves.  After reading a comprehensive job description, some applicants will choose not to apply. This may sound like an odd way to get more good candidates, but by limiting your applicants to only the people who think they would be good fits, you focus your time and attention on the people who have a higher chance of actually being a good fit.

Conversely, when a job post is generic, you’ll pull in a lot of applicants, but since they aren’t really sure what you’re hiring for, you’ll be stuck sorting through dozens or hundreds of applications that aren’t even close to matching your needs. Good job descriptions work as filters for you, so that you can pull in quality candidates without having to sift through a bunch of bad resumes.

So, where should you start when it comes to good job descriptions? We’ve put together a step-by-step guide with examples to writing job descriptions for blue-collar jobs that is guaranteed to get you more, and better applicants.

What to Include in a Job Description

1. A Clear Job Title

The job title is not a place to get creative. You are aiming to get your job in front of as many potential applicants as possible, so try to think of what they would be searching for. Aim for the most common name for a job while including any specifics (such as level) to help applicants determine right away whether they should read more.  Studies have shown that the job titles receive the most clicks when they contain 50-60 characters, so don’t worry about being too specific in the title, since you can put those details in the the rest of the description.

Good Job Titles:

  • Ready Mix Driver
  • Construction Foreman
  • Landscape Laborer
  • General Manager
  • Production Supervisor

Bad Job Titles:

  • Beverage Officer (Bartender)
  • Director of First Impressions (Receptionist)
  • Eviction Technician (Bouncer)
  • Underwater Ceramic Technician (Dishwasher)

2. A Short Description of the Job

Begin your job description with an enticing introduction. This is the first—and maybe only—part an applicant will read before deciding to apply, so aim to make job seekers curious and want to read more. If you aren’t sure what to put here, a great practice is asking your current employees how they would describe what they do and why they love working for your company. Building your job description based on the employee perspective helps applicants see themselves in the position more easily and ensures the job posting accurately reflects the day-to-day of the actual job position.

Here is a great description from Waste Management for their open Diesel Mechanic position:

Tired of just doing preventative maintenance or working only on engines? Are you ready to take the next step and work on equipment that requires a high level of skill - hydraulics, electrical, diagnostics - using modern maintenance practices and technologies? Are you looking for that right opportunity which will allow you to use and be rewarded for your skills and ability, and provide opportunity for growth? Our Mechanics are trained to provide superior maintenance on both diesel equipment and, at some locations, on our growing fleet of CNG trucks. We care about our Mechanic's safety and show it by demanding solid safety practices of all our Mechanics and managers. Pride, safety, training, growth, opportunity, great benefits, rewards - check us out, we may be the company for you.

This is also a great place to promote your company. Unless you’re Google, Facebook, or Amazon, most people have not heard of your company. And often, a job posting is the first place applicants will see your company name, not your website or careers page. So it’s up to you to sell applicants on why they should want to work for you. Start your job description with a paragraph about your company. Describe what your company does, why you do it, and whom you are looking for. This will give people a sense of not only your company but your culture as well. Start with something like this:

We are a growing company, currently seeking hard-working, dependable workers to join Plastico. Plastico is a plastics manufacturing plant in Ohio that has been around for 27 years. Machine Operators are critical members of our team, ensuring our production procedures are carried out smoothly, efficiently, and safely. If you have an eye for detail and precision, this challenging position is right for you!

3. A Full List of Responsibilities

Be specific about what the day-to-day activities of the job will be. Don’t be tempted to use older job descriptions over and over. You know as well as anyone how the responsibilities of a job can grow and change every year, so make sure the job description does the same.

Most jobs have more than 2 or 3 responsibilities, so don’t worry if you start coming up with a long list. Aim to have at least 5 bullet points, with 10 being even better. It’s okay to have a lot of bullet points since you are aiming to provide potential applicants with a clear understanding of what they will be doing each day. Think through the particular sticking points of the job—the responsibilities you often have to train and retrain employees on—and include those as well.

An example of what the responsibilities would look like for a landscape laborer position:

  • mowing lawns using both riding and push mowers
  • trimming and edging around sidewalks, flower beds, and walls
  • planting flowers, shrubs, trees, and grass
  • applying pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers
  • trimming/pruning trees and shrubs
  • cleaning lawn debris with rakes, shovels, and blowers
  • shoveling snow and applying salt to walkways and driveways

4. Clearly Defined Requirements and Nice-To-Haves

Needs and wants are very different when it comes to hiring. For many blue-collar roles, a person needs to be able to lift up to 50 pounds or needs to have a commercial drivers license to drive a company vehicle. If it’s an entry-level position, you might want 1-2 years of experience, but that is not required. If you provide on-the-job training for an entry-level position, your list of requirements can be much shorter than you would see for a job that is more senior.

Warehouse Worker Requirements:

  • be able to physically stand, bend, squat, and lift up to 50 pounds
  • pass a background check and drug screen
  • maintain a regular, dependable attendance record
  • be able to work variable hours which may include weekends, holidays and overtime
  • be comfortable working in a variety of weather conditions

Warehouse Manager Requirements:

  • have 7-10 years warehouse experience
  • have at least 3 years supervisory experience, preferably in warehousing
  • have knowledge and experience with a variety of warehouse equipment and tools
  • pass a background check and drug screen
  • maintain a regular, dependable attendance record

5. The Benefits and Perks of Working at Your Company

Finally, don’t forget to discuss the benefits that your company offers. According to a survey run by Glassdoor, 82% of workers agree that benefits are a huge part of what makes an organization competitive in today’s job market. You can really use this space to promote the unique benefits of your company and why someone should want to join your crew.

  • Do you offer health, vision, and/or dental insurance?
  • Do you include on-the-job training for career advancement? Or do you offer reimbursement for training programs outside of work?
  • Do you host company get-togethers, parties, or potlucks for holidays or company celebrations?
  • What kind of vacation time can full-time employees expect?
  • Do you offer flexible scheduling?
  • Do you have incentives for commitment to safety programs or other recognition programs?
  • Do you provide uniforms or other company gear?

You can also use this space to include a quote or two from current employees on why they enjoy working for your company. Hearing directly from their peers is a great way to help applicants feel a connection right from the start.

What Not to Include in Job Descriptions

Now that you’re writing your job description, make sure you’re not adding in too much. We just told you to be specific, so you’re probably wondering what is too much? You want to aim to be clear and specific without being wordy. Job descriptions that are too short or too long will result in fewer applications. If they are too short, applicants aren’t sure whether the job is a good fit. If they are too long, they can come off as too demanding.

Once you have written out the full job description, go back through and check to see how you can streamline it for clarity. A few key ways things to check for:

  1. Don’t use buzzwords or company jargon in your job descriptions. Don’t expect your applicants to be familiar with company acronyms. That’s what onboarding and company handbooks are for! Similarly, buzzwords like “go-getter” or “team player” don’t add anything to your job description and can come off as fake.
  2. Don’t list unreasonable expectations. Ensure the requirements fit the role you are hiring for. It’s easy to ask for more experience than you really need, but this will often result in over-qualified people taking on a job they won’t be happy with.
  3. Don’t include minor or obvious tasks. You want to be specific in your job post, but adding menial tasks that aren’t specific to the job or skills that are commonplace for all jobs just isn’t necessary. If you’re looking for a landscape laborer, there is no reason to include obvious tasks like “proficient in using a shovel” or unrelated skills such as “able to type 40 words per minute.”

We know that writing or updating a job description can be confusing, especially if it’s for a role that you have never hired for before. At Team Engine, we work with hundreds of blue-collar businesses around the country to help them recruit, hire, and retain highly-qualified field workers for their teams. We’ve taken some of our highest-performing job postings and published them into easy-to-use templates to help get you started. Download the job description templates here.

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