How to Write a Job Description

Has your business grown to the point where it’s time to hire an employee? Did you already hire an employee but never drafted an actual job description? You’re a small business. You don’t have a human resources department, you don’t have dozens of employees in multiple departments scattered all over the country, so why do you need a job description?

There are many reasons:

For clear expectations – If you’ve ever taken a job where you thought you were hired for one job but over time, the job changed, you know the frustration and awkwardness that comes with having to talk about duties. The job description describes the size and scope of the position.

If the employee, one day, decides that they no longer want to travel, but the job description states that travel is a necessary component, you might have legal grounds to terminate the employee.

Employees appreciate it – It benefits them too. Most people want to know exactly what is expected of them. They want to know the standards by which they will be judged. A job description does that.

To evaluate a future employee – You go through a long interview process, hire the person you like, and almost instantly find they aren’t a good fit because you couldn’t adequately explain the position. By having it written down, you can not only ask questions related to the job description, but the applicant will know the job fits their skill set.

How to Write a Job Description:

Job Title – This is the official name of the position, as it would appear on employment contracts and in company records.

Objective – If you were to post this position on an employment website or other recruitment resource, how would you describe the position? This should be a summary of the position to allow the reader to quickly know if they are qualified.

Duties and Tasks – This is where you list the most important duties of the job. List in order from most important to least important. Be careful, though. It should be detailed enough to provide a clear indication of the size and scope of the job but not so detailed that you can’t add duties that are closely related to the position.

Relationship – Is this a supervisory position? Does this person report to somebody else? If so, who? A brief description of the chain of command is appropriate.

Terms of Employment – Is this an ongoing position or a contract job? Part time or full time? Anything regarding hours and length of employment.

Qualifications – What type of person should apply for this job? Are there education requirements? Minimum experience? Works well in a team?

Adding vague qualifications, however, is not necessary. What does “must be a people person” mean? These types of subjective benchmarks are better gauged in an interview.

Rather than saying, “people person,” say, “must be able to learn and communicate industry specific language. Instead of saying “computer literate,” say, “Has intermediate knowledge WordPress and Microsoft Office.”

Other Tips:

Don’t Look Backwards – Crafting a job description based on the history of the job isn’t productive. Instead, think about your company’s growth plans and draft the document to meet future needs.

Don’t Make the Job Too Big – If you’re hiring for a traditional full time position, the job description should reflect a job that fits into a 40 hour week.

Don’t Discriminate – Because a job description is a legal document, any reference to age, sex, or physical ability is off limits.

Finally

Some argue that a job description can work against the employer by encouraging the employee to adhere strictly to the document instead of taking personal ownership in their job and the company. While that might be true in some cases, hiring somebody with the desire to be their best in the hopes of moving ahead in their career will help to address this issue.

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