Why You Need Job Descriptions

  1. Use for recruiting.
  2. Use for evaluations.
  3. Use for disciplinary actions and terminations.

Accurate and concise job descriptions are critical for your company’s personnel management. First, the job description is used to recruit applicants that are qualified and who are capable of performing all of the duties that make up the job. During the interview process, job descriptions can be used to focus the questioning on tasks and qualifications that the job requires. Once an employee has been selected and hired then they should be given a copy of their job description so that they know exactly what they are expected to do. They should also be given a form to sign stating that they have received a copy of the their job description and that they understand all of the job requirements and that they agree to meet the job’s requirements.

Job descriptions can, and should also be used to evaluate employee performance. Each duty listed in the job description should be an area addressed by a bi-annual or annual employee evaluation, and scored as poor, needs work, average, or superior work performance.

One of the most stressful and legally intimidating tasks that a personnel manager or owner has to face is the disciplining or dismissal of an employee. However, having a job description available to objectively demonstrate the area that the employee has failed to meet your expectations in is helpful in making your case. If the employee disputes your dissatisfaction by saying that either the duties that you are talking about aren’t a part of their job, or if they say that they didn’t know that they were supposed to do certain tasks, you can show them the job description and the signed form that clearly outlines the duties you spoke of and the proof that they were indeed aware of them. These documents are especially important to have during a termination. These two tools will help protect you against lawsuits for wrongful termination and for use in disputing unemployment insurance claims. You can document that you provided the employee with a job description and that they were aware of all of the duties for the position. You can also produce your evaluation forms that are based on the job description showing exactly where the employee failed to meet the performance standards of the job.

Now that you know why you need job descriptions, next you’ll learn how to write one, starting with the job analysis.

How To Conduct a Job Analysis

1. Review the company’s documents.
2. Research other job description resources.
3. Interview the staff currently involved with the position.
4. Have employees write job duties.
5. Review materials and reduce to minimum requirements.
6. Have employees evaluate the list.
7. Revise and submit for final approval.

Step One: Review the Company’s Documents

The first step of a job analysis is to review all of the company’s documentation on the job you want to write a new job description for. This includes the prior job description (if available), newspaper advertisements related to the job in question, recruiting brochures, and evaluation forms. These documents will give you a base to work from in generating a new job description.

Step Two: Research Other Job Description Resources

The next step is to review other companies’ descriptions of similar jobs. You may even want to check out a book containing job descriptions in order to locate standard duties for specific positions like secretary, executive assistant, accountant, clerk, etc. Use these resources to get a few ideas on how to word your job description, and how to generate a list of minimum qualifications.

Step Three: Interview the Staff Currently Involved With the Position

After you have a list of duties that are normally associated with the job in question, the next step is to interview the employee, or employees, who is or are currently occupying the position. Ask them what the minimum qualifications that are needed to successfully meet the requirements of the job, what tasks and duties the job normally entails, and any “as needed” duties that this job requires. After interviewing the employee you will also want to interview their supervisor or manager. Ask the manager or supervisor the same questions, and also ask if they expect to add or remove duties or responsibilities to the job in the near future. (i.e. If two jobs are to be combined in a few months then there may be several new responsibilities added to the job description that the current employee isn’t aware of yet. If this is the case, you should also interview the person who occupies the position that will be combined with the original job that you are analyzing.)

Step Four: Have Employees Write Job Duties

When you ask the employees to write out the minimum qualifications and duties required to be successful in the position, try to stress the importance of only including “minimum” qualifications and only “essential” duties. For example, the current employee in the Accountant I position has an MBA and a CPA’s license. However, the duties required to successfully perform the job really only need the skills developed through a Masters level program in Accounting, Business, Finance, or some other related field. For the purpose of the job description the qualifications listed should only include Master’s Degree in Business, Finance, Accounting or a related field. You may also want to include other acceptable combinations of schooling and work experience. For example a masters degree is equal to 5 years work experience and a Bachelor’s degree, or 10 year of work experience in a similar field and no higher education.

Step Five: Review Materials and Reduce to Minimum Requirements

At this point in the job analysis you should have quite a bit of information about the job you are analyzing. In this step you will want to compile all of the vital information and get rid of any unnecessary information. Also similar or related tasks should be compiled into a single duty title where possible and practical. For example the employee may say stated that their duties include: going to the post office, processing incoming and outgoing mail, and sorting and delivering mail to appropriate offices. The combined duty title for these listed specific duties could be simply “mail processing.”

As you go through the list of duties, eliminate duties that are duplicated or that are optional. For example the current employee may cover for another position when an employee is absent because of illness or vacation. However, the notes from the supervisor don’t mention this as a required duty for the position so it should be eliminated from your list because the next employee won’t be required t take on that responsibility.

When you are done with this step you should have a list of minimum qualifications and duties required to perform the job in question.

Step Six: Have Employees Evaluate the List

Give the employees occupying the job and their manager a copy of the list that you just generated. Have them review the list to make sure that it covers all of the duties needed, and all of the qualifications needed to perform the job. Have them make notes and return the list with their suggestions to you by a certain date. (Be sure to give them an adequate amount of time to complete their review and get back to, keeping in mind that they have other job related responsibilities to deal with. However, a deadline should be set, to avoid procrastination and to make sure that you get the evaluations back in a timely manner.

Step Seven: Revise and Submit for Final Approval

Use the notes from the employees to revise the job description list. When you have the final draft, next meet with the personnel manager for the final approval of the job description list. Once approved you’ll be ready to write your official job description.

How To Write a Job Description

You can either follow your company’s model for a job description, or you can use the one provided below as a template (or search for samples online). Remember to include a “revised on date” and a mention who made the revision at the bottom of the job description to help make sure that personnel is using the most up-to-date revision.

Job title: _________
Job Code: _________
Hours per Week: _________
Job Location: _________
Department: _________
Supervisor: _________



Where to Apply:

Contact Information:

Revised on X/X/XXX
By _________