Person hand writing a job description

Importance of Writing a Job Description

by Michelle Roberts, SPHR, on October 01, 2018
Carefully written job descriptions help attract the right talent to an organization, set appropriate employee and employer expectations, and can function as a tool for complying with employment laws. 

Recruiting - Job descriptions are a commonly overlooked, but vital tool in recruiting. By posting a comprehensive job description, employers can narrow the potential field of applicants to the truly qualified. Applicants can decide if they are interested in a position, would be a good fit, and would have opportunities for growth and advancement.  

Good job descriptions should take into account all aspects of the position.  The following are some of the key components:
  • Summary:
A few sentences that give the general nature of the job, job responsibilities and how those fit in with the mission and goals of the organization.
  • Essential Duties & Responsibilities:
This section lists attributes and skills such as problem solving, written/oral communication, business acumen, leadership, attendance, adaptability, and professionalism.
  • Report To/Supervisory Responsibilities:
The goal here is to give the title the position reports to and if any supervisory responsibilities are attached to the position. It can also indicate how the job fits into the organizational layout.
  • Experience and Skills:
This section will go into detail on the software/hardware knowledge required, education requirements, industry knowledge, skills and certificate/license preferences.
  • Work Environment:
Specific physical location and conditions such as office, indoor/outdoor, noise level, exposure to hazards, etc. should be listed here.
  • Compensation:
Describe full time/part time & FLSA classification, days and hours including overtime requirements, if any, and salary range in this section.
  • Training:
Outline the job specific training needed for the position, such as food handler, HIPAA, leadership training, and safety training such as OSHA 30 or CPR/first aid.
  • Other:
List any required travel and physical demands, like lifting in this area.

Setting Expectations - From applicants to hired employees, a job description can set the tone for position expectations.  Initially an applicant can decide if they are interested in a position, if it is a good fit, if they find the salary acceptable, and if they feel there is opportunity for growth or promotion. For managers, job descriptions can be the building blocks needed to set clear job expectations, give guidelines for employee development and promotion, and set appropriate salary levels.  Job descriptions can also support, when needed, disciplinary action and termination decisions and provide legally defensible positions on those decisions.  In addition to all that, job descriptions can support succession plans and employee development. 

Compliance - Job descriptions are an essential tool in properly classifying an employee’s status as exempt or non-exempt according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements.

For covered employers under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), accommodation responsibilities are directly affected by the essential functions of a specific job.  Employers can use the essential functions of the job to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals. 

For covered employers under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), job descriptions, specifically essential functions of a job, can be provided to medical professionals to obtain medical certificates/return to work certificates to take leave and return from leave.

Job descriptions are a vital tool for organizations, but they should be treated as living documents - ongoing works in progress.  Job descriptions cannot be created and then filed away.  One way to keep job descriptions current and relevant is to review them with employees during annual performance reviews.  The job description can be given to an employee and an interactive dialogue can occur between an employee and their direct supervisor or human resources manager to determine if certain skill sets, specific tasks, required training/certificates, and essential duties are still valid.  

For help writing or designing job descriptions that attract the right type of talent to your organization, contact LandrumHR's Consulting Division today!
Michelle Roberts, SPHR

Certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Michelle Roberts serves as Human Resource Manager for LandrumHR. She has over 15 years of experience in human resources management. She is responsible for delivering human resource expertise and training to our client customers. Her experience in the field has been acquired through focus on employee relations, benefits, risk management, and employment law compliance.

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