How to Write a Job Description
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Writing a good Job Description
A job description is a document that describes the expectations of a particular job. It highlights the roles, responsibilities, and performance standards that a position requires in full.
Job descriptions are for internal use only and are not typically disclosed to job candidates. They can be used for employee orientation, performance evaluation, or wage comparison between employees. If legal issues arise, job descriptions can act as evidence of fair employment practices.
A job posting, however, is separate from a job description. Job postings state an open position’s key features and are made available to potential candidates. These postings typically include requirements for eligibility, responsibilities, and company culture.
Compared to a job description, a job posting is much leaner. It does not list all the technical and soft points that a job description may include, which is one reason why a job description cannot be used as a job posting.
A job posting should include the most compelling points of a job. In fact, think of a job posting as an advertisement — Except, instead of selling a product to a customer, you are selling an open position to top talent.
A well-crafted job posting – not a job description – is what potential employees need to see. But, a well-crafted job posting Starts With a well-written job description.
What to Include in a Job Description
At the very minimum, a job description must include the following points.
Job Description Points:
- Job title
- Location and travel requirements
- Educational requirements
- Applicable skills
- Essential functions
- Management responsibilities (if any)
- Supervisory relationship (“In your role, you will report to the Head of Production…”)
- Information about compensation and benefits package
- Performance expectations
Essential Job Position Functions
Essential functions are the fundamental duties an employee performs in his or her position. These essential functions do not include extra or incidental duties.
The position you’re aiming to fill will naturally have a purpose and specific functions. To decide what functions are essential, consider the time spent on each function. After that, consider the consequences of not performing that function. The tasks that require the most time and have the most serious consequences will typically be the position’s essential functions.
Once you have identified the fundamental duties of a position, it should be easy to identify the skills, knowledge, and abilities that that position requires.
Measuring employees’ results and effectiveness is critical to the efficiency and success of your business. One of the best ways to measure these aspects is to create a quantitative measuring system. This type of system is built around the job functions and skills that you previously defined.
To measure performance, start with an outline of what behaviors constitute superior performance. Assign a number to those behaviors. Continue by outlining and assigning values to less ideal levels of performance, and eventually you will have a scale that quantitatively measures employee performance.
Creating Your First Job Description
If you are an entrepreneur looking to hire your first employee, make the hiring process easy for yourself: Start off by creating a simple job description suited to what you currently need. As time passes and the role or your strategy evolves, you can modify the description.
Use the following process as a starting point for creating a more detailed description.
One – Think of one or more keywords that best define and clearly describe the task.
Two – List the activities involved in performing the task.
Three – List the skills required to performing the activities.
Example: Restaurant General Manager Job Description
Keywords: restaurant service, staff management, marketing, financing.
- Creating a restaurant business plan. This involves surveying restaurant demand, assessing the competition, and engaging with the community. It also entails preparing marketing, sales and financial projections.
- Preparing standard operating procedures and policies, and implementing patron service standards.
- Attracting patrons by developing and deploying advertising, marketing and community relations programs.
- Cultivating banking relationships and conducting financial analysis. This includes preparing annual budgets and forecasts, and creating financial strategies.
- Recruiting, orienting, training and counseling staff.
Skills Required: budget development, cost accounting, customer focus, and the ability to improve processes. Strategic planning, financial planning and strategizing, and the ability to focus are also necessary.
What to Include in a Job Description
A job description can be formatted and presented in various ways. It simply needs to be legible, descriptive, and understood.
Nearly all job descriptions include the following:
- Date of creation – Reviewing descriptions is important, and should happen from time to time. When necessary, changes should be made, logged and recorded by date.
- Job status – This could be full-time or part-time; temporary or permanent; hourly or salaried.
- Job title – A title that accurately hints at what the job may entail should be present.
- Job summary – The summary should be a few sentences long and give a brief overview of the job. Finer details should be present under the responsibilities and essential functions sections.
- The skills – List the skills necessary to perform the job on par with expectations.
- Ranking of duties – Rank duties in order, from the most important to the least important, say on a scale of 1-10.
- Task frequency – The frequency at which the tasks are performed. For example, is a specific task performed every day, week, or once a month?
- Job environment – The big idea here is to communicate where and in what conditions the job will be performed. For example, certain duties might be performed off-site. Similarly, you might expect that the employee telecommutes twice a week.
It is important to note that you do not have to put all the information about a job into its job description. It is not necessary to mention a task that will take up less than 5% of the employee’s time.
Additional Resources on How to Write a Job Description:
- SBA.gov – Job Descriptions
- MIT.edu – Job Description Tips
- Mashable.com – How to Write a Job Description
- INC.com – Writing Job Descriptions
- Recruiting.com – How to Write Effective Job Postings
- Payscale.com – How to Write a JD
- RecruitLoop.com – Job Descriptions
- PITT.edu – JD Guide
- Workable.com – Example Job Descriptions
- Monster.com – Sample Job Descriptions