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The Low Down on the JD (Job Description)

job description

Recently I was tasked with a project that required me to review an establishment’s job descriptions and well it led me to thinking…do companies purposefully write job descriptions?

“I did not sign up for this; this was never part of my job description!”…..Have you ever had that thought? I certainly have a few times throughout my career. Why? Well, what some job descriptions explicitly state and what  the company truly expects are certainly disparate. Let’s just say my expectations and my job reality were unevenly yoked. Yes, I had signed a contract and yes I did thoroughly peruse and sign the job description but boy was I in for a rude awakening. So why the confusion…my job description was certainly not a true representation of what was expected of me. As a once confused employee, I hope to give you some guidance on how not to leave your employees with that sense of uncertainty and sensory confusion when it comes to their jobs. It is tedious but the effort you put into writing a job description can be the difference between an employee being a  Thoroughbred or falling Through the Bread! (corny I know)

Why is a job description important?

It all comes back to this train of thought… “to manage talent.” It helps you to manage your recruitment and selection process, manage your employees’ expectations of their responsibilities and manage their performance. Therefore a job description should sufficiently do the following:

  1. Identify skills and competencies necessary to perform a role
  2. Define where the job fits in the overall picture
  3. Be a valuable performance management tool

What are some necessary components of a good job description?

  1. It’s all in the title – The job title should reflect the nature of the job and what it entails. It should be such that the title does not require too much explanation; keep it simple.
  2. Department – Specify which department the job falls under as this indicates the nature of the duties that will be performed.
  3. Reporting Structure – The employee should know their reporting lines. Indicate the position they report to and those positions that report to them. Not only for compliance issues but to give insight into the hierarchy of the organization.
  4. A typical day in the life – Highlight the essential functions, key areas of responsibilities and duties that will lead to success in the role. They should be action and outcome focused. For example – “Conduct market research” is too vague and does not give the purpose for the function whereas “Research competitor trends, industry best practices and consumer trends to make recommendations to augment product design” this is more explicit with the expected outcome of completing that task. Try to avoid overloading this section so that it becomes an operational manual. Leaving out the minor task does not negate their importance to the role.

A few quick tips

  1. Be specific with your requirements and language used. Vague descriptions make it difficult for potential candidates to know if they are qualified for a job or will enjoy it.
  2. Do not embellish the responsibilities, the job must still sound doable for its intended target audience.
  3. Embody the company culture in the job description. Use language that gives some insight into the company ethos.
  4. Be concise. Your job description should be easy to read and give a concise overview of the pertinent details.

 

Remember your job description should give the reader a sense of the priorities for the position. It can help you to attract quality employees who can truly fulfill what the company expects. So, the more accurate your job description is, the more useful it will be in the future.

Contributed by Ms. Niska Best, HR Advisor

Profiles Caribbean Inc.

 

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