The Importance of a Job Description

Manager interviews a job candidateEmployees deserve to know what is expected of them and how they will be evaluated. A clear and up-to-date job description addresses this expectation while providing a basis for employee performance reviews, salary increases and career development. A job description also forces management to define goals and expectations that are company wide, and determine how to implement them through the employee channel. Using job descriptions is part of good management. Read on to learn about writing or updating a job description.

Components of a Job Description

  1. A summary statement. These one or two sentences include a general statement of duties and identifies who the employee reports to.
  2. Functions of the position. This section is usually the most lengthy. It details what the job actually entails and should be quite specific. It describes tasks the employee faces every day as well as specifies any supervisory functions. This is also a good place to indicate if the employee will interact with customers, the public or internal employees.
  3. Attributes needed for the position. If the position involves the use of machinery or computers, spell out what type of machines or software the employee will use. Be sure to detail any technical or educational requirements that may be critical or desired. This is also the place to provide some insight into the type of work environment you are attempting to maintain. Is the environment pure business, or must the person be able to contribute to an overall spirit of the organization?
  4. Reporting. Provide details on the reporting and organizational structure. Outline who the employee reports to as well as what positions report to the employee, if applicable. This will help the employee better understand how their responsibilities fit into the total organization. Consider including an organizational chart if appropriate.
  5. Evaluation criteria. This is the place to define the organization's overall goals, as well as the individual employee's objectives. Spell out the tasks, behaviors and goals that will be evaluated and how they will be measured. Be sure to provide details about when performance evaluations will take place.
  6. Compensation. Include a compensation range for potential employees, instead of a specific figure, to give you flexibility when negotiating salary. However, if the job description is for an existing employee, use a specific dollar amount because most people feel they should be at the top of the range. If your organization uses salary grades, use those.
  7. Physical location and surroundings. If the company has multiple locations, the job description should include the name of the primary location, or indicate that travel between locations will be expected. For larger companies, specify the department or business unit under which the job falls.

In Conclusion

Using job descriptions define current employees' roles and how they fit within the overall organization's goals. They provide a means for evaluating employee performance and compensation, and they become an effective communication tool for use between management and employees.