Secrets to writing a great job description

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Writing a job description often brings up images of a tedious project combined with unhappy, non-supportive managers to many HR professionals. Sound familiar? But having a current set of well-written job descriptions for your organization’s unique jobs doesn’t have to be a painful endeavor. Instead, with a little planning and preparation, the process can go quite smoothly and provide you with a newly strengthened HR foundation.

1. Communicate early on with your management team. Communicating the value of a good job description to managers well before the project begins is crucial for your success. Start with the basics and share how a great job description benefits the manager and actually makes her/his life easier.

Just a few reasons top-performing companies value job descriptions:

– Recruiting, screening, and interviewing job applicants

– Communicating performance expectations

– Establishing guidelines for job advancement

– Guiding employees with their job path

– Providing documentation to support employment related decisions

– Market-pricing jobs in the labor market to establish competitive wage/salary data

2. Partner with management. Let your managers know they have an HR partner on this project. You will find some managers will flourish by themselves and deliver their job descriptions early; some will need more hands-on help. You can give the manager the power up front to let you know how much assistance he/she would like. However, in exchange you require a completion date that everyone agrees to.

3. When possible start with a good position analysis. It is not required, but over the years we have found better job descriptions result when the process has started with a position analysis. A position analysis not only produces a good job description, but helps both the manager and employee better understand the job.

4. Create a user-friendly job description template. Having a job description template ready before your project begins saves you a lot of time later and provides your managers with a preview of what the job description will look like.

Categories we like to include:

– Summary

– Essential Duties and Responsibilities

– Supervisory Responsibilities

– Education and Experience

– Skills and Abilities

– Certificates Required

– Work Environment (ADA qualified)

The headings can be customized to your company’s unique needs. A helpful reminder – always include the job title in the footer with the latest revision date and page number.

5. Incorporate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Ensure each job description has the necessary ADA qualifications. You can do this yourself, but an easier way is to use a job description writing software such as Descriptions Now! Then all you need to do is complete the ADA questions and you are off and running.

6. Commit to an annual review of your new job descriptions. Communicate your annual job description review early on so all of your hard work doesn’t go to waste after the jobs have changed or evolved over several years. A good time for this review is in conjunction with the employee’s performance appraisal where updates can be made as needed to reflect current responsibilities and requirements.


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