How to write an executive level job description

Published on: 23 Dec 2014

The job description is an important document. For the potential employee it is a piece of information which provides them with a more detailed insight into a job vacancy and allows them to make a more informed decision about whether it is a position they wish to apply for.

Further down the line, if they are successful with the application and accept the position, the job description is the employee's point of reference for their progress and performance.

However, the job description is equally important for the employer. It is not just created to attract candidates, it is there to ensure the right candidates come forward. It needs to be in-depth and detailed. Get it right and the right people will apply. Get it wrong and you may not see anyone who fits the criteria, because you failed to stipulate that criteria clearly enough.

At executive level, the calibre of candidate you will be reaching out to is going to be high, so set your expectations accordingly. If you are advertising for an Executive Director or Chief Executive Officer you want people with relevant experience to step forward - not those who merely aspire to the role.

A typical layout for an executive level job description might follow this template:

Job Title

In this example, let's use Chief Executive Officer.

Job Purpose

A succinct sentence or paragraph describing the role. This might say: 'The Chief Executive Officer has prime responsibility for the management and leadership of the company, working to fulfil the strategic direction as set by the Board.'

Primary Responsibilities and Duties of the Job

The Chief Executive Officer will be expected to perform the following:

Clearly, these responsibilities and duties will vary from role to role, and company to company, but in the case of a Chief Executive Officer, common headline requirements might include:

Strategic vision and leadership

Operational management

Human resources and staff management

Financial management

Internal and external communication

Beneath each of these headers should be a paragraph - or a bullet-pointed list - expanding upon what each of these elements of the job include. Responsibilities under the human resources part of the role might include the implementation of internal human resources policies; the recruitment and selection of staff; the implementation of a formal performance management process for staff; the development of employees through regular training; creating a mentoring programme for staff; ensuring a happy and healthy work environment in accordance with legislation; and overseeing all staff disciplinary procedures.

Qualifications and skills

This is the section of the job description where the employer should list all desirable or required qualifications. This is usually a combination of formal educational qualifications, job experience, and personal and professional skills.

It goes without saying that a CEO should have a University degree, in a related field, and at least 15 to 20 years of professional experience in a similar or relevant industry and preferably management experience of a multisite national or global company.

Professional experience and abilities should be in line with those detailed in the  'Primary Responsibilities and Duties of the Job' section, while skills might include the following:

Astute leadership skills: the ability to delegate, motivate, set and achieve clear targets.

Strong organisation and analytic skills; a sound decision maker.

Impeccable personal presentation, an eloquent communicator, an outstanding builder of relationships.

A problem solver, the ability to generate possible solutions and make recommendations to solve an issue.

Working conditions
Finally, it's important to include some detail on working hours, conditions and location. This is particularly advisable if the role requires the employee to work anywhere outside the main offices, or outside what might be deemed as 'normal' weekday times.

If there is be a requirement for the CEO to work in the evenings, or weekends, to attend events and to travel worldwide on occasion, this should be stated so that all candidates know what is expected of them.

In conclusion, the job description for an executive level position needs to be thorough and reflective of the status of such a high-ranking role - for the benefit of both parties.