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How to Create a Meaningful Job Description

Tools and plans to create a meaningful job description

Introduction

A clear job description is important in helping employees and potential employees clearly understand:

  • The specific duties and requirements of the job; and
  • To know what is expected of them.

The job description is also the starting point from which other human resources processes can be built upon. Specifically, it is used to:

  • develop job postings, interview questions and selection criteria in the hiring process
  • align the job with organizational missions/objectives
  • develop performance objectives to evaluate job performance
  • provide the basis to monitor and improve performance
  • conduct job evaluations for salary benchmarking and develop compensation programs
  • identify specific training needs within the company

Key Elements

  • Job title
  • Reporting structure
    • To which position does this job report?
  • Job level or grade
    • Refers to the hierarchical classification of positions found in larger organizations
  • Job Summary
    • High level summary of the job and how it is aligned to the company’s mission
    • Overview of why the job exists and outline its mandate within the organization
  • Primary duties and responsibilities
    • Use headings (such as Reception and Office Administration) and give examples of the type of activities to be done that accurately conveys what is expected without limiting the job responsibilities to only specific tasks
    • List in order of importance and start each bullet with an action verb in present tense (i.e. controls, supervises, develops, coordinates, lead etc)
    • Focus on those duties that provide an indication of the scope and impact of the role
    • Include information that demonstrates the level of responsibility required
    • Use gender neutral language (i.e. s/he)
    • Avoid using acronyms and industry jargon
    • Be specific about the action to be taken and avoid words that are open to interpretation
    • Specify whether this position has any direct reports or is responsible for managing a team whether directly or indirectly
    • Where appropriate, use qualifiers to clarify the task – where, when, why and how often
  • Requirements: Education/Skills/Knowledge/Experience
    • Outline the minimum qualifications (education and/or experience) required to successfully perform the job (include licensing and special training requirements)
    • List specific soft skills required and describe how they apply to the role using examples
    • List job specific or technical skills (i.e. C++ programming, Six Sigma methodology)
    • Consider the depth of each skill required
  • Physical and Mental demands
    • Detail the type of physical and mental effort that is required, including duration and intensity (i.e. heavy lifting over 30lbs, excessive standing/sitting, doing repetitive tasks, etc.)
  • Working conditions
    • Provide details about the type of work environment that is required (i.e. working with irate customers, complaint department)
    • Describe any chemical or mechanical equipment use, workplace hazards, excessive noise, particular climate exposure
    • Examples: evening and weekend work, shift work, working outdoors, frequent travel, overtime, long periods in front of a computer
  • Date created/approved
    • Also indicate the date the job description was last reviewed and by whom

Benefits of a good job description

Helps the EMPLOYEE to understand:

  • What is expected of them in terms of duties amd responsibilities
  • The importance of their duties to the company, manager, and co-workers
  • How their position contributes to the company’s mission and objectives

Helps the EMPLOYER promote organizational effectiveness by:

  • Ensuring that the work performed by employees are aligned with the organization's mission
  • Helping management clearly identify the most appropriate employee for new duties and realigning work loads
  • Providing the foundation for most HR management activities as previously outlined

 

Written by: 

Belle Yuan, CHRL
Principal Consultant | Strategywise HR
T: (416) 305-5005
E: byuan@strategywisehr.ca
W: www.strategywisehr.ca

 

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