We all know job descriptions are important. In addition to defining the scope of work for a position, a well-written job description will also outline the skills needed to perform the job, the type of candidate you’re looking for, and an appropriate compensation range.
Inadequate or out of date job descriptions are a breeding ground for poor performance, miscommunication, and employee dissatisfaction. They also make it much more difficult for managers to complete employee evaluations and Human Resources to recruit and hire effectively.
What should good job descriptions do?
Job descriptions should paint an accurate picture of the current job and appeal to the kinds of people you will be looking for when it’s time to hire someone new.
Here are six basic building blocks that will help you create an well-written, effective job description.
Include an outline of the job that includes title and location as well as the purpose, function, goals, and primary responsibilities. The summary should be clear and easy to understand. It should be written in a way that makes it attractive to the kinds of people you want to hire and those who will excel in the position. Pay attention to language and tone. A dull, dry job description isn’t going to help you find your next Creative Director. And a flowery posting probably won’t get you that no-nonsense analyst you’re looking for.
Be clear about essential tasks and duties. Listing them in order of importance or based on the approximate percentage of time that will be spent in each area can be very helpful. If specific equipment is to be used on the job, you can include it in this section (Examples: forklift operation, managing CRM data, operating POS systems). No need to include minutia here. Keep this section focused on core job duties. Additional details can be discussed during subsequent interviews.
3. Minimum Qualifications
What are the minimum requirements necessary to perform, or be considered for, the job? These criteria are often used for screening applicants and are sometimes considered “deal breakers.” Be sure to evaluate this list carefully. In a competitive market, you may need to rethink how you’ve been assessing candidates. Does the job really require a Master’s Degree? Or is that just the cherry on top?
4. Preferred Qualifications
These include any additional skills, education, or relevant experience that would be nice to have in an ideal candidate. A wish list, if you will. Preferred qualifications should not be considered mandatory or be used to disqualify applicants. Examples might include advanced degrees, experience with particular software programs, foreign language proficiency, or excellent karaoke skills, depending on what your company culture looks like.
Salary should be determined by the skills required for the job and the ability to attract quality candidates, not by the person currently doing the job or a potential candidate’s previous salary. Questions to ask here are, “Does the compensation reflect the scope of the position and the duties within?” and “What salary range will attract someone with these capabilities to this area and to my company?” A variety of things can affect salary ranges, including shift hours, the nature of the skills required, availability of candidates, job location, and cost of living.
6. Employee Benefits
Are benefits are included with the position? This is key information for both current employees and potential new hires, and an important part of the employment contract. A desirable employee benefits package can entice candidates to join your team and help keep them around longer. Medical, dental, vision, vacation, remote work options… these are the kinds of things candidates and employees want to see in writing. Plus, they help you define and manage expectations.
Keep in mind that job duties, qualifications, and compensation can and will change over time. It’s important to update job descriptions regularly to make sure they are accurate on all counts.
Job Description Dos and Don’ts
Because job descriptions can have legal ramifications, you’ll want to consider the following when creating and using them:
- Official job title
- Position supervisor/manager
- Status: Exempt vs. Non-exempt
- Any physical demands required
- Managerial responsibilities as applicable
- A statement about “other duties as assigned”
- The date the description was revised or prepared
- Any references to age, sex, or appearance
- Gender specific titles such as Waitress or Salesman
- Nondescript job titles such as Guru, Ninja, and Fixer
- Overuse of industry jargon or acronyms (spell them out)
- Words that are subject to interpretation such as “sometimes” or “several”
Be clear and concise
It’s been said that if you can’t explain something simply, then you don’t know it well enough. This may be okay for existential discussions with your poetry club, but not for defining your business.
Taking the time to create and maintain accurate job descriptions throughout your organization will help you reinforce company values, manage and reward your staff, and find great talent to fill spots as needed.
It’s almost like having an HR helper in your back pocket. And who wouldn’t want that?
Tired of working with insurance salespeople who only think one year at a time? Wonder what it would be like to have a broker who looks beyond your annual policy? At Raffa Financial, we’ll provide a corporate employee benefits strategy to help you achieve your long-term your vision. Get in touch to find out how.
Photo by Elliot Burlingham