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Job Description

What is a Job Description?

A broad written statement of a specific job basically is known as a job description. It usually includes roles, purpose, responsibilities, scope, and working conditions of a job along with the job's title, and the designation of the person to whom the employee reports. In simpler terms,  a JD is a written narrative declaration that describes the general tasks, or related duties, roles and responsibilities of a position. It may specify the hierarchy to whom the position reports, parameters such as the qualifications or skills needed by the person in the job, information about the kit, tools and work aids used, working conditions, physical and mental health demands, and also a salary range. JD's are usually narrative, but some may cover a simple list of proficiencies, for instance, strategic human capital planning channels may be used to develop a competency architecture for an organization, through which JD's are built as a shortlist of proficiencies.

Importance of Job Description

JD's are an assorted tool for Human Capital management. Regardless of using it for hiring or regulating a performance review, at some nor the other time one or many job descriptions must have crossed the desk of an HR professional. Organizations can use a well-crafted job description not only as a valuable aid in the job-recruiting process but also as an outline for reporting relationships and working conditions.

JD's are very essential, which means that great care needs to be taken in creating them and updating them from time to time.

Job Description is important for the following reasons-

1) It gives a clear picture to the candidates about what their duties and responsibilities are for that particular job.

2) A Job Description provides a consistent understanding across various departments of job position roles and how they help the organization to bloom.

3) It helps employees to create specific goals and missions for job advancement.

4) It also helps create boundaries regarding employees’ roles and responsibilities.

5) A proper Job Description justifies an employee’s pay.

6) A well-crafted Job Description can be used to set measurable performance goals based on roles and responsibilities in the job description, and then coach the employees to meet those goals required.

7) Organizations can use their employees' job descriptions, along with the descriptions of viable job promotions, as a source of incentives for employees to pursue classes, seminars and other career development activities.

8) Job descriptions can be supportive in developing a standardized compensation program with minimums and maximums for each position.

9) Employers can use the job descriptions as a criterion for performance, and as a tool to encourage employee performance to reach above and beyond the job description in respect to receive recognition and rewards.

10) If required, organizations can use the job descriptions to embellish that an employee is not adequately performing the job functions.

11) JD's can help identify specific skills and abilities that are essential for a position or the environmental pressures that apply to the position. A well-crafted job description tells the candidate the requisites of the job. After reading the job description, some candidates might decide that they are not fit for the position or may not be interested in it. 

Difference between Job Description and Job Posting

A job description is an internal acquittance that throws light on the company’s job position. It is written more in a formal tone and it accommodates all the details about the roles and responsibilities an applicant is looking for. Whereas, a job posting is an external advertisement of the organization's openings the purpose of which is to attract candidates and applicants. It is written more like in an engaging tone and it contains information not only about the job position but also about your company and the benefits you offer.

A job description is an internal document that explains the company's job position. It contains the details about the role and responsibilities and it is written in a formal tone. A job posting, on the other hand, is an advertisement for the open job description. It is a report meant for external use, to attract and grab the attention of the candidates. 

In short and crisp sense: Job description explains the job, while job posting sells it.

Troubles with Job Description

1) Not position-specific.

Often companies try to write one job description to cover all workers doing essentially the same kind of work. But such an approach may miss vital, though subtle differences. For example, different department heads in an organization may have essentially the same types of major responsibilities, but specific duties, time spent on various areas, and task priorities may differ substantially from one manager to the next. One department manager may be loaded with routine and planned work, while others spend more time with spontaneous execution and troubleshooting. Job descriptions should reflect the unique character of each position and not attempt to cover too many different positions. If this is not done the job description does not accurately reflect the actual work design.

2) Being descriptive rather than prescriptive.

Job descriptions are frequently prepared after the fact--after the work is designed--and are prepared largely with data submitted from the incumbent. The result: a picture of what is, rather than what should be. Managers at all levels must get involved in job description preparation to control design and to assure that the work done is what is in the best interest of the organization. Job descriptions should prescribe what ought to happen. Periodic performance reviews should compare what does happen with what ought to, and should lead to adjustments when discrepancies are found. Too often companies let jobs evolve into "products of the incumbent"-jobs compatible with incumbent interests rather than with organizational interests.

3) Mixed with performance standards, person specs, and/or rules and regulations.

Many so-called job descriptions attempt to incorporate performance-level expectations--quantity, quality, timeliness, and cost criteria--with defined standards of performance. Some companies have adopted these results-oriented descriptions in an attempt to improve the value of their job descriptions. But performance criteria--ways of measuring-a-re not part of the design of the job and are, therefore, best left for a separate performance evaluation instrument--perhaps attached to the job description but distinct from it.

4) Often rules and regulations get mixed in with duty statements.

Statements like "Avoids carrying two acid-filled beakers at once" or "Wears hard hat when doing warehouse stacking" are not really statements of work to be done. However, a statement like "Checks floor daily to assure not slippery," may be a legitimate duty statement. Admittedly, it can be difficult to show the appropriate line between what should go in the JD and what would be better left for a separate document.

5) Temporary work gets left out.

Most jobs will have temporary assignments built in from time to time. Special projects, committee assignments, and one-time tasks, for example, may have to be delegated to employees. Any duty planned in advance for execution over a year or less duration should go in the job description in a special Temporary Assignment section. It is a fully legitimate part of the design of the job and should be acknowledged as such. Not acknowledging such work (which is a frequent occurrence) leads to flaws in end-of-year performance evaluation, work load assessments, and so on. A good practice is to add each year--perhaps during the performance review--a Temporary Assignment section to the job description. This section makes it a dynamic document. Recognizing how essential temporary activity engagement is and accepting the practice of acknowledging it in the job description stimulates that all-important periodic review of the job description.

6) Does not show how non-task time is spent

If you add up the time percentages associated with duty statements in many job descriptions, you should get to 100 percent. This, you know, cannot be right. No worker ever spent 100 percent of his or her on-the-job day doing work. Managers and operative employees are idle waiting for delays, taking breaks, socializing at work, and engaging in semi-work activities such as in-plant or out-of-plant travel. Job descriptions should recognize how one's time is truly spent by indicating time allotment to these non-work and semi-work engagements. In some jobs these are significant time-consuming categories. Failure to acknowledge them in the job description highly misrepresents the design of the work.

Benefits of Job Description

Writing job descriptions may seem to be a formidable task, but if done well, there can be many benefits for your organization.

1) Better Recruitment

Well-crafted job descriptions serve as communication tools that allow both the employees and the applicants to clearly understand the expectations of the roles and responsibilities, the essential duties, and the required capabilities, educational qualifications, and experience apt for the role. By doing this well, it can improve both internal and external recruitment and can also retain and motivate the best talent by setting the seal on employee expectations and ensuring that they are aligned with business expectations of what the role entails.

2) Better Compensation Data

While direct compensation probably should not be on the job description but the JD  should probably allow one to do research to determine the market value of the given role. If done well, the job description will help HR assess where the job falls within any existing pay structures so that inequity or compression issues when filling the role is not created.

3) People Planning

People planning is critical and essential to the company’s business plan. In order to execute and measure success of the missions and goals for the organization the following people components are essential:

 a) A full list of job descriptions across the organization shows all of the roles for the    organization, and thus can show what positions  are not filled and help with future planning. 

b) Job descriptions can note the role and responsibilities required for the position within the organization and the future career roadmap so that recruitment is forward-looking for the  future roles. Hiring managers can later consider the candidate fit for not just the current vacancy, but also consider the if the candidate is fit for future advancement.

c) Job descriptions can be matched up with the performance evaluation system to identify areas where additional training is required.

About peopleHum

PeopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work.

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