How to Write a Job Description

Fri, Mar 12, 2010

Human Resources

Consider you are traveling to an exotic location on holiday. You locked in the best deal and are very excited about it. But this location does not have any guidelines for tourists. How will you plan those precious seven days?

Now consider the same with a new job you have been hired for, which only carries the title “Manager,” something similar to”exotic beach holiday.” You assume the new position and start hitting tasks which come across your desk randomly. At some tasks you excel (which you like) and at some you fail (which you don’t like). Sooner than later, your manager disqualifies you from your performance bonus stating that you are under-performing.

If You Are The Employee

  • How will you find out what is considered quality work and what is considered inferior quality?
  • How will you find out what is of high priority and what is not?

If You Are The Appraising Manager:

  • How will you know if you need to hire more people or whether the same person can do multiple tasks?
  • On what basis will you decide on implementing employee training and development programs?
  • How will you motivate your hires?
  • How do you know if a person is doing an effective job?

Job Descriptions: Good Management

All employees like to know what is expected of them and how they will be evaluated. Job descriptions can also be of great value to employers. Creating a job description often results in a thought process that helps to determine the following:

  • how critical the job is
  • how this particular job relates to others
  • how to identify the characteristics needed by a new employee filling the role

A job description outlines the necessary skills, training, and education needed by a potential employee. It spells out the duties and responsibilities of the job. Once a job description is prepared, it can serve as a basis for interviewing candidates, orienting a new employee, and finally, in guiding and evaluating job performance. Using job descriptions is part of good management.

The Value of Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are valuable to employees and managers in numerous ways, such as:

  • helping employees acquire a greater understanding of their present positions
  • reorganizing functions and responsibilities in the entire organization
  • evaluating job performance by comparing what the employee does and what the job description says he/she should do
  • serving as an introduction for new employees to their positions
  • assisting in hiring and placing employees in the positions for which they are best suited
  • setting forth lines of promotion within all departments and at all levels
  • assisting in forecasting training needs for a particular function
  • improving workflow
  • reviewing the existing practices at all levels
  • serving as a guide to making decisions concerning transfers

Job descriptions should be updated on a regular basis to avoid inaccuracies. Supervisors should review the accuracy of job descriptions during an employee’s annual performance appraisal, before the advertisement of a vacant position, and whenever departmental changes affect the distribution of roles and responsibilities.

The Structure of A Good Job Description

A comprehensive job description has the following components:

1. Organizational information: Information such as job title, department name, reporting relationships, whether the job is temporary, full-time or part-time, and company values.

2. Job summary: Two to four paragraphs to answer the question “Why does this job exist?”

3. Duties/responsibilities/percentage of time: A listing of the major responsibilities of the position organized from essential to non-essential, most time spent to least time spent.

4. Competencies/skills required: A list of relevant abilities essential for expected performance.

5. Metrics for performance evaluation: Measures required to assess job performance, bound by time.

6. Working conditions: The physical, mental, and environmental conditions in which the work is performed.

7. Job specifications: The minimum education, work experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities required to do the job. Also lists any needed licenses or certifications.

8. Disclaimer: A brief statement indicating that the job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities or responsibilities required of the employee.

9. Signature approvals: Signatures are needed from the position’s supervisor and the person who controls the budget that will pay the position’s salary or wage.

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