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 Job Descriptions – boring HR – stuff! They take an age to write up, then they’re stuck in a file somewhere and never see the light of day again. So what’s the point?

Job descriptions can be a business positive.

Prepared and used wisely they can be a positive tool in organisations helping to

  • save work during the recruitment process by establishing clear requirements for employees,
  • focus training and development
  • supporting performance management.

How to write a Job Description

To prepare a job description you first need to fully understand the job role. What exactly is the post required to do?

Set out the Job Title,

Manager reporting to and location of the work.

Write a brief statement that sets out the aim or purpose of the role and objectives to be met.

Next list down the main duties or tasks of the job and be specific where appropriate but always have “other duties or tasks as directed” listed. This gives you flexibility to add other items as they arise. This is especially important when you have quiet periods or are understaffed.

The final section is to identify the job skills and qualifications. These should be split between what is essential and what would be desirable. Also include any specialist equipment or software knowledge again spilt into essential and desirable.

These are the main components of a Job description.

So how does that help your organisation or business?

Firstly it will have an immediate use when you are recruiting someone to do the job. The recruiter will have a clear picture of what the job involves and the skills and knowledge requirements all of which are essential for the job advert. You must take care not to make statements or list requirements that are potentially discriminatory on the grounds of gender, age, ethnicity sexuality or health.  You should avoid making time based experience requirements such as “must have 10 years’ experience of…..” Periodically you will need to review and update the Job description to keep it up to date and a true reflection of the role.

From Job description and your knowledge of the job you can devise a “person specification”. This is a profile of the ideal person who would do a great job in this role. So it’s about skills, knowledge, experience and personality. Again key things a recruiter will need to find you the right candidates. The details from the Person Specification will also feature in the job advert and will be a guide to applicants about what you’re looking for. A well-presented job description and person specification can also enable candidates who do not fit your profile to self-select not to apply thus saving wasted time reading and interviewing inappropriate applications.

You must take care not to make statements or list requirements that are potentially discriminatory on the grounds of gender, age, ethnicity sexuality or health.  You should avoid making time based experience requirements such as “must have 10 years’ experience of…..”

Job Descriptions will enable you to plan induction and development training by giving a starting point for the first days training and establishing priorities for on-going training.

A copy of the Job Description should be given to the employee and thoroughly explained so that they have a clear understanding of the job requirements. The Job description will then form the reference point if you need to take action if the employee’s performance starts to fall below the standard required.

Hopefully you can now see that Job Descriptions have a positive use and can support you and your business by focusing recruitment, guiding training and supporting performance

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