How to Write a Kick A** Job Description
Updated: Oct 6
6 foundational steps to writing accurate job descriptions to hire and promote the most qualified employees.
Have you ever applied for a job, gotten that job, and then realized the job was not what you expected based on the job description? I’d be surprised if you said no. Unfortunately, this is often the norm due to inaccurate or dated job descriptions.
Job descriptions are a critical part of the recruiting and employee retention process. A well-written job description attracts qualified candidates and sets expectations for their first year as an employee of your company. As employees grow at your organization, they will look to job descriptions and career path plans to understand what opportunities exist and what skills they need to qualify. While writing an effective job description can be viewed as time-consuming, a properly composed description increases the chances of employing the right person for the job. It also decreases the risk of employee turnover due to improper expectations being set by inaccurate job descriptions.
Here are 6 key foundational steps in writing a job description:
Step #1 - Be a nerd - Do the research
Put on your taped glasses and get our your protractor. It's time to do a job analysis. A job analysis involves collecting and interpreting data about the responsibilities of the position from key stakeholders and employees currently performing the role at your company. That's a long winded way of saying collaborate with your colleagues on what the role requires and what is needed for success.
You may interview employees performing tasks similar to the new position, administer questionnaires or worksheets to employees, observe how tasks are performed, and collect data from other sources such as front line managers of the position. If the position is new, you can lean on industry data from sources like ONET or collaborate with other businesses who have the role currently. By gathering as much information as possible about the new position and by seeking feedback from individuals performing or supervising the role, you will set yourself up to describe requirements for the position in the most accurate way possible.
Step #2 - Determine the essential functions
Scientific method step 5; analyze results and draw conclusions. Based on the information gathered, define the essential functions of the position. Make sure the tasks identified are truly necessary and determine the frequency at which they will need to be performed. You also need to determine the consequences of not performing the functions, and if the tasks can be redesigned or reassigned to other employees when non performance occurs. After defining the essential functions, you can determine marginal functions and whether job accommodations are needed. Once the essential and marginal tasks and functions have been established collaborate with key stakeholders before publishing the job description to ensure its accuracy.
Step #3 - Organize the data and draft the JD
One of the most important steps in writing a job description is organizing the data. Although job descriptions vary across companies, all job descriptions in an organization should be standardized. This is where job description templates can be very valuable to an organization. Sit down with your HR team and determine which sections should be standardized for which job family and create templates that all new and existing job descriptions will follow. Here are a few main components to include:
· Job Title – Name of the position
· Company Description – An overview of the company where the candidate will be working
· Summary Paragraph – An overview of the job, including daily responsibilities and growth opportunities
· List of Responsibilities – A list of seven to ten key responsibilities, including daily activities, duties unique to the organization, supervisory responsibilities, financial responsibilities, disciplining, and performance reviews.
· List of Job Qualifications – Education, skill requirements, certifications, technical skills, years of experience, certifications, and personality traits.
· Compensation and Benefits – An optional part of a job description, including salary, perks and benefits associated with the position
· Other Items – Work environment, essential physical requirements, potential hazard exposure, team-related details, and travel requirements.
Step #4 - Add a disclaimer
As thorough as we may intend to be, business conditions can change prompting us to pivot. For this reason, it’s always good practice to include a disclaimer that indicates the job description does not contain or cover a comprehensive listing of duties, activities, or responsibilities of the position. The duties, activities, and responsibilities may change or new ones can be introduced with or without notice.
Step #5 - Add signature lines
A signature line provides you the opportunity to establish trust and show candidates/employees that the job description has been well thought out and approved by the organization. It also provides the employee with the opportunity to acknowledge that they understand the requirements, duties, and functions of the position. At a minimum the signatures should include those of the manager or supervisor and the employee. Providing signatures from leadership will strengthen the message to the employee that the organization understands and is accurately portraying what is required for the position.
Step #6 - Review, seek feedback, & finalize
Once the job description has been drafted, it should be shared with key stakeholders and leadership for final comments or edits before approval. Team members should also review the language of the job description to identify and eliminate any language that could be seen as bias or discriminatory. Once approved, the final job description should be kept in a secure organized location where copies can be accessed for recruiting efforts, job interviews, accommodation requests, and performance or compensation reviews. Be sure to label versions accurately so that as time goes on and job descriptions need to be updated your team knows which version is the most current.
Job description management doesn't have to be hard
Writing a job description can be seen as a time-consuming tedious task. It doesn’t have to be that way. By involving key stakeholders to get requirements correct, developing job description templates, and having a clear defined job description management process you can save time writing job descriptions and make JDs a vital tool in your organization’s ability to hire and retain qualified talent. MOSH JD can help your team make the job description management process easy. Visit our website to find out how. https://www.moshjd.com