For human resources professionals, a job description is a crucial tool. It helps attract appropriate candidates and serves as a guide for new hires. No matter where you are in the hiring process, taking the time to write a solid position description can save you a great deal of time and hassle in the long run.
All jobs change over time, particularly if the company has expanded or changed its service offerings. To create a job description that better matches the position responsibilities, update it each time there is a major change in the company. Revisit the description after a different position is eliminated, after a round of layoffs or after the company starts offering new products. Pay attention to departmental shifts, as well; if the company starts pushing a new product line, it is likely to affect the duties of people in sales, marketing, advertising, development and public relations. By making small changes on a more frequent basis, you can ensure that the job description evolves with the position.
A complex, convoluted job description can be confusing and ineffective. To make the description more accurate, the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that you revise with an eye toward clarity. Take out words that may be interpreted in multiple ways, like "frequently" and "several." Instead, when dealing with frequency or quantity, be as specific as possible by using words like "daily" or "monthly." For each responsibility you list in the description, add enough detail to guide the employee. Instead of saying, "collects mail," you might write, "collects mail from all managers twice daily." Include all of the crucial information that the employee will need: locations, supervisors, specific duties, close colleagues and tools. With a clear and comprehensive descriptions, job candidates will be better able to determine if the position is a good fit.
One of the easiest ways to write a more accurate job description is to involve your colleagues. Though HR professionals are often heavily involved in company operations, there is no way to keep track of every responsibility for every position. The most obvious place to start is with the person who is currently occupying the position; ask her to review each duty, correct errors, add additional responsibilities and suggest other changes. This ground-level view is crucial, no matter where you are in the hiring process. Then, spend time talking to the people who depend on and report to the person currently holding the position. Chances are, they will be able to identify additional roles and responsibilities that the person holding the position isn't aware of. This process can give depth to the description and help you understand how the position fits into the company.
In many cases, writing a job description is more difficult than it initially appears. By taking the time to delineate responsibilities and outline dependencies from the start, you can ensure that the description is an accurate guide and recruiting tool.
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