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How to Write a Job Description

how to write a job descriptionIt is critical to know how to write a job description, as the job description is your “road map to success.” Not only will a job description help you determine what type of employee you need to fill your vacancy, it also sets the stage for everything else that you will do with that employee going forward. From hiring, training, compensation, orientation, performance reviews, and promotion – the job description starts the entire process.

With regards to the hiring process, being clear on a position’s duties and responsibilities and the qualifications required, at the start, will save you time when screening resumes, interviewing candidates and selecting the best candidate because you will be clear on what you are looking for. Ultimately, this will allow you to be more objective during the interview process so that you hire the best candidate.

Key Steps and Recommendations for How to Write a Job Description

The most common components of a job description are:

1. Position title

2. Scope of position

  • A general overview of the position, describing the major responsibilities of the job in two or three sentences.

3. Overall goals

  • Gives you a way of measuring success in that job.
  • Include measurable targets against which the employee can be evaluated at the time of the performance review.

4. Roles, responsibilities and expectations

  • Divide tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks.
  • List the responsibility, then list the expectation of how that responsibility should be carried out and the length of time it should take.
  • For example:
    • Daily task: Answer phones that come to the company’s main line.
    • Expectation: Phones should be answered by 3rd ring, and any calls that go into voicemail, should be retrieved within 30 minutes of going to voicemail.
    • Frequency: 1 hour of answering phones per day.
  • This will give a good estimate of how many hours per week will be required to carry out the functions of the position, which will also help you determine if you have a full-time job or a part-time job.
  • For roles where this type of breakdown isn’t possible, include specific expectations on how a job function should be carried out.

5. Qualifications, skills & experience required

  • Categorize this section by: Education, Experience, Technical Skills and Soft Skills. Identify what are ‘must have’ skills and ‘nice to have’ skills in each section. This distinction is extremely helpful when screening resumes.

6. Reporting relationships

  • This indicates to whom the position reports and if there are any subordinates that report to this position.

A job description can be anywhere from one page to several pages long. Just make sure you are as detailed and as specific as possible.

Once you have a job description, take from it to create your job postings, to communicate responsibilities to prospective candidates, to develop screening criteria during interviews, and even to set expectations with new or existing employees in the position.

A job description is a living, organic document. It should be updated regular as the position changes or as the company requirements change.

Our HR How-To Series for Small Business provides Canadian small businesses with a quick, convenient and cost-effective way to manage your employees. Each module contains practical & ready-to-use templates, clear & concise instruction guides, and video tutorials on each HR how-to topic.

To test out our HR How-To Series for Small Business, download your free How To Write A Job Description session. This session includes:

  • Video: How to Write a Job Description
  • Written Instruction Guide
  • Job Description Worksheet / Template
  • 2 Job Description Samples

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