Good job descriptions are a fundamental part of recruiting and retaining your staff. They are the cornerstone for important processes such as job postings, interviewing and selection, setting expectations, training and performance management. Upon the end of an employee’s life cycle, they may be shared with outside entities such as the Department of Labor, for unemployment claim purposes, or the EEOC/NYS Division of Human Rights in support of your organization should a claim be filed.
To write a good job description, keep the following tips in mind.
Components of a Job Description
Your job description should contain basic information such as the position title, FLSA status (exempt or non-exempt), and supervisor. In addition, you will want to include:
• Purpose and responsibilities of the job
• Individual tasks involved
• Relationship of the job to other jobs and to the organization
• Qualifications needed for the job (education, licensing, experience)
• Physical requirements of the job
Job Description Summary
In the beginning of the job description, a position summary or general description should be included. To write a position summary, answer the following questions:
• What is the purpose of this position?
• What are the 2-4 main responsibilities?
• If you had to explain to a candidate what a person in this position does, what would you tell them?
Example: The Customer Service Representative is responsible for managing incoming calls and directing them to the appropriate channels, and performing basic administrative duties. This position is also responsible for providing administrative support services, records retention and management, and providing assistance to clients and customers on a regular basis.
The bulk of a job description is a list of what tasks and responsibilities are involved in the position. Some resources you may use include:
• Observing a current employee and asking questions
• Asking a current employee to make a list of their tasks and responsibilities, and how much of their entire job each task takes up
Include a list of general tasks and duties, not instructions on how to do them. Include “Other duties as assigned” to cover miscellaneous duties you may not have listed.
Job Description Language
Structure your sentences in classic verb/object and explanatory phrases. Since the occupant of the job is the subject of your sentence, it may be eliminated. For example, a sentence pertaining to the description of a receptionist position might read: “Greets office visitors and personnel in a friendly and sincere manner.” Always use the present tense of verbs.
If necessary, use explanatory phrases telling why, how, where, or how often to add meaning and clarity. For example, “collects all employee time sheets on a bi-weekly basis for payroll purposes”.
Use unbiased terminology. For instance, construct sentences in such a way that gender pronouns are not required.
The Job Requirements
When describing the minimum requirements or qualifications for the job, ask yourself the following questions:
• What kind of work experience would the ideal candidate have? How many years? In what type of role? In what type of industry?
• What technical skills would an ideal candidate have? For example, do they need to be proficient in Microsoft Excel?
• What soft skills would the ideal candidate have? Do they need superior customer service skills? Excellent communication skills? The ability to work well with a team?
• What education is required and preferred for the job?
• What physical requirements are expected of the position? Consider sitting and standing frequency, noise level, repetitive movements, lifting, bending, reaching, etc.
Acknowledgement of the Job Description
At the end of a job description, add a section where employees can sign. Above that, add a statement similar to: “I understand that the above job description is not a contractual or binding document; it is provided as a guide to the types of duties required to be undertaken. Duties may vary from time to time and this description is subject to review. Modifications will be made as needed to support changes in the business climate and requirements. I will follow and adhere to my job description to the best of my ability.
Reviewing Job Description
A job description should be provided to an employee during the job interview, upon hire, during performance evaluations, and any time there is a change. Allow employees to take a copy of the job description and keep a signed copy on file.
If you would like assistance developing and writing your organizations job descriptions, contact us. We are always there to help.