Writing the perfect job description is a skill—you need to capture what a job’s all about and what it takes to do it well, in just a few paragraphs. It’s important, too. Great job descriptions attract higher quality candidates, but they also help them (and others in your organization) understand a role.
Why Job Descriptions Matter
Spending time creating (and updating) job descriptions is just good practice. Your first step when creating a job description is to ensure you don’t look unprofessional in the eyes of the potential applicant—spelling or grammar errors are a tell-tale sign that a company isn’t all that it seems.
However, getting the basics right is just the bare minimum. If you can infuse creativity and excellent writing into job descriptions, you can showcase the talent within your organization and attract the interest of better candidates than a standard job description ever could.
Even once a candidate is hired, job descriptions still have a role to play. They offer accountability—if you’re clear ahead of time what a role entails, disgruntled employees can’t make excuses. This is especially true during performance reviews, where an employee’s specified role and their actual output can be compared.
Listing all required duties—especially smaller tasks that can be easily forgotten about— also helps boost productivity. Employees with ambiguous instructions from their superiors can seem lazy, simply because they aren’t sure what they should be doing. If employees can refer back to a job description that offers clarity and guidance, they can set themselves on the right path.
How Job Descriptions Help Organizations
Having a full and accurate collection of job descriptions is also helpful at an organizational level. Once your company reaches a certain size, it can be hard to precisely track the full responsibilities of all individual employees. The C-Suite can only make fully informed decisions if they can quickly understand the role of anyone on the team—that’s what job descriptions allow.
Job descriptions are also helpful when an employee is sick, absent for any length of time or unexpectedly leaves the company. Whether a replacement needs to be found or colleagues are picking up some of the slack, knowing the precise tasks the role requires is essential.
Lastly, job descriptions can also play an important administrative role. If an employee is seeking a disability accommodation, a job description can function as a guide to the essential and non-essential parts of their job. They can also be used when seeking to justify an employee’s exempt status.
What a Job Description Should Include
The challenge of writing a great job description is explaining the core aspects of a role while also covering a lot of other necessary information.
Here’s a rundown of what you need to include:
- The Basics
You’ll want to cover the Job Title, Department, Direct Supervisor, Employment Status, FLSA Status and Effective Date.
- Position Summary
Next, give a brief summary of the job itself.
- Essential Duties and Responsibilities
Now’s the time to list the job’s fundamental elements—the tasks and responsibilities that are necessary to accomplish the jobs purpose and for which the employee will be held accountable. Don’t be afraid to expand this section with smaller, but still important, tasks. However, make clear that the list of tasks described is not exhaustive—employees may still be required to fulfill other duties.
- Minimum Qualifications
Here’s where you list the knowledge, skills and abilities a candidate requires. List any relevant job experience and education desired for the job.
- Physical Demands and Work Environment
Describe the physical requirements of the job and any conditions to which the employee may be exposed (like excess noise levels or extreme temperature) or anything which could require reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities.
To give HR teams a head start, Paycor is offering a free Job Description Template. Download and customize the template to the needs of your organization.