Job Descriptions

The job description is the most basic building block of sound human resource management. It is the foundation from which many other business activities are built and necessary to efficiently control business operations.

Job descriptions will assist you with recruitment, training, performance management, and compensation decisions and they can protect you from disciplinary issues or allegations of discrimination. Every employee is entitled to a comprehensive description of their role and an explanation of the duties and performance standards expected of them.

Without a job description it is not possible for a person to properly commit to, or be held accountable for a role. Each job should have a description identifying the duties and nature of work, qualifications, decision-making, know-how, interactions and supervision.

The job description should identify the essential functions of a position. These are tasks that are fundamental to a particular job. To identify them decide on the purpose of the job and the importance of the actual job functions in achieving this purpose. Consider the frequency with which a function is performed, the amount of time spent on the function, and the consequences if the function is not performed.

A job summary should describe why the job exists and explain the role the job plays in achieving the company’s mission, goals and objectives. This statement is often used as the basis for describing the job when advertising for candidates. The summary should be concise, no more than four sentences. It may be easier to write the summary after completing other sections of the job description.

Make a list of the top 5-8 things a person must do to be successful in the job. List the duties and responsibilities in order of importance and the percentage of time devoted to each responsibility. You might find it easier to write down all the aspects of the job you can think of in a random fashion. While you are doing this think about: processes, planning, executing, monitoring, reporting, communicating and managing people, resources and activities.

Rank them in order of importance and get someone else who knows the role to check them over. This is the most important section of the job description. Make sure you write in a consistent format using clear and concise language and describe the desired outcome as well as the method for accomplishing that outcome. Instead of "writes down phone messages" say "accurately records phone messages.

Indicate to what degree the job will have problem solving or decision making responsibilities. Consider such things as how much authoritative advice will be given? What level of analysis or information gathering will be needed and how much freedom will the incumbent have?

Describe the frequency and nature / purpose of contact with other people. How much and what kind of contact will the employee have with co-workers, customers, suppliers and why.

Identify the level of education, knowledge, skills, abilities and experience necessary for entry into the job. List the education, work experience, and technical/professional skills required to be able to perform the job rather than those that describe the ideal candidate. Don’t lock yourself into strict requirements that may prevent you from considering qualified candidates. Consider substitutions for example 4 years of professional experience or a bachelor’s degree

Provide additional information or explanation if needed to describe unique or special physical requirements, such as heavy lifting in a stores role.

Get S.M.A.R.T, be Specific, Measurable, Action-orientated, Results-focused and Time-based

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