Job descriptions. You might not think they’re worth spending much time on, but that’s simply not true. Job descriptions are an important starting point when hiring and later, serve as your “road map” when managing the employee.
You don’t hire an employee based on generalities, so why should the description for a particular position be broad or vague? You’re looking for more than just a warm-blooded human who can read, write and sit through long-winded meetings, right? You have specific needs to be filled with each new position … and goals to be met by bringing that person on board … right?
An in-depth, carefully constructed job description lets you hone in on the skills, experience and education the job requires. With these details, your job postings will be more targeted, your interviews will be more targeted, and your selection process will be more targeted.
And down the road, you’ll save time and money letting a ho-hum employee go and replacing that person with someone more qualified – or investing in training to fill in the gaps and bring a ho-hum hire up to speed. Your appraisal process will be easier, too. When that first performance review rolls around, you can compare an employee’s contributions against the goals and objectives stated in the job description. There’s even the added benefit of legal protection, especially in cases where an employee may cry “that isn’t my job” when asked to do something.
Bottom line: An in-depth job description can help you make a better hire, while supporting the management and ongoing review of that hire.
So what does a well-written job description look like? Here are some guidelines:
Title. Give the job a title that fits the desired experience level and that indicates the rank within the company hierarchy (such as managerial, supervisory, clerical, etc.). Don’t use a title that is gender-specific. (For example, say “salesperson,” not “salesman.”)
Individual skills needed. Does the job require the use of certain equipment or computer programs — or some other specialized knowledge? List specific workplace qualifications, as well as broader qualities, such as “willingness to learn,” “customer service skills” and “team-playing skills.”
Responsibilities/duties. Describe the tasks the person will do routinely on the job, as well as the expected outcome. (For example, “Schedules building maintenance and repairs to ensure uninterrupted business operations.”)
Education or training requirements. Are specific degrees or certifications required for the job?
Minimum experience. What types of jobs will the ideal candidate have held previously? How many years of experience? Remember that more years of experience generally demand higher pay. Never refer to experience in terms of age. (For example, say “entry-level,” instead of “recent college graduate.”)
Work schedule. Will there be set hours? How many days a week? What type of flexibility is needed? Specify any environmental factors that may affect the position, too. (For example, excessive noise, high temperatures or outdoor work.)