How to Write a Job Description

Mary Gormandy White
How to Write a Job Description
How to Write a Job Description

Are you looking for information on how to write a job description? Perhaps your company is just starting to hire people, or maybe you are evaluating the positions your organization already has. Whether you already have a full staff or are planning to hire more in the future, making sure that you have accurate job descriptions in place is important.

Learn How to Write a Job Description

In order to write a job description, it's important to have a sound understanding of what is involved with performing the particular job the description will represent. Job descriptions should start with details about the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are necessary to perform each job in your organization.

Start with a Job Analysis

Writing a job description begins with conducting a job analysis. This involves looking closely at each position in your organization so that it is possible to detail what a person must know (knowledge), be able to do (skills), and have the aptitude to learn (abilities) in order to perform the work required. Conducting a job analysis can involve observing incumbent workers, asking employees to keep a log of the work they perform, interviewing supervisors and individuals who perform the same or similar jobs, and other research techniques.

Additional Information to Include

Once you know the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities for each position, you can begin to write the job description, staring with a list of these items. The description should also include the job title, information about the reporting structure for the position, and the duties the person who holds the position will be required to perform on a regular basis.

Additionally, each job description should also indicate any special requirements for the position, such as necessary education level, physical capabilities, and licensure or certification needed. Some companies also include salary ranges on their job descriptions, but it is not necessary to do so.

About Job Descriptions

Job descriptions serve important functions in every organization. It's essential for companies to have accurate job descriptions in place for every position they staff. They are essential tools for in the hiring process, as well as for managerial purposes.

job description handbook

Hiring

When preparing to interview candidates for an open position, it's important to review the description of what is involved with the job. The description can allow managers to determine what they need to look for in each applicant in order to decide who is the most qualified for the position. Additionally, job descriptions can allow applicants to develop an educated understanding of a job, so they can make an informed decision about whether or not the position is one that they are even interested in undertaking.

Managing

The need for job descriptions doesn't stop once workers are hired. Managers should utilize job descriptions on an ongoing basis to be certain that they are aware of what duties fall within the scope of each position held by team members. This allows work assignments to be made in a manner consistent with position responsibilities and also provides supervisors with a way to determine what types of employee training might be necessary.

Job descriptions are also important tools for completing employee performance appraisals. When evaluating how employees are doing in their jobs, supervisors need to be able to tie each aspect of the appraisal to the duties and responsibilities specified for the position that the employee holds.

Legal Considerations

When drafting job descriptions, it's important to be aware that they can have significant legal implications for any organization. If your company's job descriptions state that particular qualities are essential for certain positions, be sure that you are able to defend why they are necessary from a legal perspective. Do not include anything in a job description as a requirement if there is not a solid, legally defensible reason why it needs to be there.

For example, say you have a job description that specifies that an employee who holds the position must be able to stand on his or her feet for up to eight hours per day. Many jobs, such as retail positions, do require this ability. However, most jobs do not entail standing up for this long on a regular basis. If you are hiring for a position where standing for extended periods of time is not really an essential job function, yet you don't hire people who can't stand for eight hours, your hiring practices may be deemed discriminatory under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

How to Write a Job Description