Tips for Writing Comprehensive Job Descriptions

Accurate and up-to-date job descriptions are one of the most important tools an employer has for attracting the right talent for the organization. They provide valuable workforce development information to current and prospective employees about available career opportunities and the requirements to achieve advancement within an organization. It can also be used to effectively measure success and role expectations when creating development plans and conducting performance reviews.

Organizations should have a consistent format in which the job descriptions are created. They should speak to how each role fulfills the mission critical to fulfilling the company’s strategic goals and vision. Here are some other tips you should consider.

Your standards should be high, but keep the requirements low.

Multiple high requirements often weed out great desirable candidates. Require the absolute minimum, and include desirable skills. This will give the hiring team the greatest options. Be sure to include the required licenses and certifications.

Include physical requirements such as lifting, climbing, sitting, keying, squatting, etc.

Allowing candidates to determine if they are qualified for the job will help candidates with a disability to determine if they can perform the tasks, with or without reasonable accommodation.

Determine which functions are essential and which are not

Time in a role alone does not prepare a person for a position. Include the skills you would expect someone to acquire to fill this role successfully.

Know if the role meets the requirements to be classified as exempt or non-exempt

A title does not justify the classification. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the position must meet the duties and minimum salary test.

Review to ensure non-discriminatory language is used and remove other outdated information

Be sure it is gender non-specific terminology (i.e., use firefighter and not fireman), remove duties such as faxing, look for code words like “healthy and fit,” remove any age-related references (i.e., “looking for recent grads”)

Include unique demands of the role

Demands include the requirement to travel, overnights, weekends, overtime, work outside of normal hours, etc.

Technical Skills

Ask only for the ones you really need them to know, and prepare to train them on the others. Technical skills are often easily transferable.

Review them regularly to ensure the skills needed remain accurate

Technological advances change roles on a regular basis. As technology and automation evolve, so should the job description.

A job description is intended to provide job applicants with an outline of the main duties and responsibilities of the role for which they are applying. Job descriptions are a useful tool for employee communication; without them, communication lines are blurred, employee expectations are not met, and employee abilities or skills may fall short.

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