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Elements Of A Good Job Description

(5-7 minute read)

The importance of writing effective job descriptions cannot be overstated, as they are often a driving force behind staff turnover.

According to a study by Hay Group, a global management consulting firm, poorly written job description is one of the main reasons for employee turnover in businesses of all sizes across the U.S., U.K., and Australia. For instance, an inaccurate job description can cause mismatched expectations and the employee quitting as a result.

But, while it is imperative to accurately describe the role, that’s only half the battle—because a good job description not only states the essential skills and qualities but also sells the company to job seekers. For this reason, the posting should be written by someone with solid knowledge of the role and the company’s culture. Typically, the writing process involves covering five areas: heading, summary, duties and responsibilities, requirements, and working conditions.

Heading

This area contains general information about the job, such as:

  • Job title, which should be based on the primary function or role of the job—for example, “Program Director,” “Administrative Assistant,” or “Help Desk Support Analyst”
  • Salary range or pay grade
  • Department name
  • Exempt or nonexempt status
  • Full-time or part-time hours

Summary

In two to four sentences, this section should answer the question: “What is the purpose of this job?” The intent is to show how the activities of the role tie into the organization’s objectives.

Kenexa, an IBM company, gave the following example: “The Product Marketing Manager drives the multimedia content, lead generation and sales enablement tools development for our company’s applicant tracking software product line.” This summary also included reporting relationships—such as to whom the Product Marketing Manager directly reports and dotted line reporting relationships. However, reporting relationships can be listed in the heading area instead, as long as they are concisely conveyed.

Duties and Responsibilities

This is a listing of the major duties and responsibilities the accepted candidate is expected to carry out. It can be arranged according to importance or time spent.  For example, start with the most important duties and then work your way down to the least important. Or, begin with the duties that require the most amount of time and continue down to those that take the least amount of time.

Open each statement with an action verb—such as “lead,” “develop,” “design,” “supervise,” “collaborate,” or “recruit.” Action verbs are more convincing than non-action verbs and make the sentence more concise.

Avoid vague, generalized statements; say exactly what you mean. For instance, instead of simply saying that the receptionist will “provide callers with information,” give examples of the nature of that information.

You do not need to state every task the employee will be required to undertake, but you should provide enough detail so candidates will have a good understanding of the position. At the same time, brevity is crucial, as too much information can overwhelm candidates or bore them. A good rule of thumb is to limit the list to less than 10 bulleted statements that succinctly describe the core responsibilities.

If the job description does not contain all duties and responsibilities of the job, state this as a disclaimer in the posting.

Requirements

“What standards must the candidate meet to qualify for the job?” Here are some metrics to consider:

  • Minimum education, including certifications and licenses
  • Work experience
  • Skills, knowledge and abilities
  • Travel

This section plays a huge role in attracting the right candidates, so be as precise as possible and indicate any areas of flexibility.

You might say how many years of work experience are necessary for each area of concentration and what qualities and abilities the candidate should possess. For example, requires two years of experience in marketing payroll software products, excellent presentation skills, and the ability to learn new technology concepts quickly. State the percentage of travel (if any) and applicable equivalent experience (in lieu of education).  Be clear about what is required versus what is preferred.

Working Conditions

This section outlines the conditions under which the work will be performed while giving candidates a glimpse into your company’s culture. It should, for example, state whether the employee will be working in an office, telecommuting or warehouse environment and the types of equipment he or she will be required to use. Also, include any special physical, mental or environmental conditions—such as lifting, exposure to extreme temperatures, or long periods of standing.

End the job description on a positive note by highlighting the benefits your company has to offer. Does your company provide health and welfare benefits, great location, flexible hours, office snacks, public transportation subsidies, bonus program, paid time off, or access to fitness facilities? This is your moment to shine.

 

 

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Date

March 7, 2019

Author

AXIOS HR

Category

< 50 employees Article Business Executives Competitive

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