Fortunately, for many businesses, they leave the hiring to Human Resources, which may be responsible for designing and creating job descriptions. These professionals have the training and expertise to design job descriptions, which are essential to hiring processes and often used to protect the company when it comes down to legal issues. If you don’t have the luxury of an HR department, learn more about why you need job descriptions and how invaluable they can be to your small company.
The Importance of Job Descriptions
When you consider various job descriptions you have read in the past, you probably remember reading a title, a summary of the job, duties or more detailed information. In essence, job descriptions are primarily designed to advertise jobs to job seekers. However, they also provide many other important functions.
Well written descriptions entice the most qualified people to apply for jobs. They are frequently used as management tools when dealing with employees, and they might help to protect companies from legal problems when hiring employees.
Job descriptions certainly aren’t a legal requirement when running a business, but once you understand why you should create job descriptions, you’ll understand the importance of using them.
Hiring the Most Qualified People for Jobs
We’ve all read vague job descriptions at one point or another, and they are often written so poorly that we come away wondering what the job really entails. Consequently, many qualified applicants don’t bother applying. Then of course, a well-crafted job description defining qualifications can have far different results.
It’s not unusual to have very specific qualifications in job advertisements for different industries or companies with the same job title. To get the most qualified candidates, you might list qualification requirements pertaining to the number of years in the field, a college degree in a specific area or some sort of certification. These types of qualifications help to eliminate those candidates that don’t meet your criteria and couldn’t perform jobs satisfactorily.
By taking the time to analyze the responsibilities and duties for a job, you can craft impressive job descriptions that attract qualified people with the credentials you’re looking for to become trusted employees that add value to your company.
Useful Management Tools
As a manager, responsible for employees, you may think you need an arsenal of tools to encourage productivity, resolve employee issues and clarify job duties. Yet, a simple and effective job description may be all you need.
The details contained within a job description for a manufacturing company for example, may specify each job duty to be performed, defines how many products must be made per shift and may state the answers to common questions about job performance and hiring practices.
By stating the requirements within the job description, both the employee and the manager have a clear understanding of what is expected of the employee. This can eliminate a number of questions and resolve confusion.
When managing employees, managers can use the terms listed in the job description to determine whether employees met or exceeded the requirements of the job when writing up performance appraisals. It also comes in handy if you need justification for taking corrective actions against an employee who is performing poorly.
Some managers that are not familiar with many human resource issues may not realize the importance of how a simple document like a job description can be used when legal issues arise concerning ADA lawsuits, discrimination claims or classifications of nonexempt and exempt employees.
Listing the essential duties or functions in descriptions may help companies facing ADA lawsuits. In some instances, ADA claimants are hoping to prove they can perform essential functions for the title even though they are disabled. By listing the functions within a portion of the description, a claimant may have no legal standing for a lawsuit. In some situations, it may be up to the court system to interpret the situation when functions aren’t listed.
It is unlawful for employers to discriminate against job candidates based on age, mental disabilities, physical disabilities, national origin, religion, gender or race. Nevertheless, these types of lawsuits still come into play frequently.
However, by listing job qualifications in job descriptions, you may not have to deal with discrimination issues. If you can prove the applicant didn’t have one or more of the job qualifications, discrimination may not be a viable lawsuit.
The Fair Labor Standards Act is still in place today. A portion of this law determines whether employees are classified as non-exempt or exempt for overtime. The duties and job summaries within a job description can be used to determine whether overtime laws apply to certain employees.
Essentials of a Good Job Description
Job descriptions may vary somewhat depending upon the company and job title, but these tips might provide you with some of the basics needed to get started.
- Job Title
- Job Summary. Summaries describe the purpose of the job and how, when and where it’s conducted.
- Responsibilities and Job Tasks. This list comprises all duties required when performing the company job and what your responsibilities entail.
- Job Qualifications. Qualifications could include required licenses, special knowledge, training, physical abilities previous experience or general skills.
- Work Environment. The work environment may specify a work at home job or a specific location or city where you’ll report to work. It may also indicate who you’ll be reporting to.
- Benefits and Salary. Some descriptions may include benefits like health care, life insurance, vacation time and so on. Many organizations prefer to discuss salaries during the interview process.
Common Mistakes When Drafting Job Descriptions
If you don’t have human resource skills or are new at designing job descriptions, it’s a smart idea to get co-workers or an employee who currently performs the function to read over your description for the job. You might be somewhat surprised at the things you overlook or leave out.
Job descriptions should be short and on target. They should highlight the job, requirements, skills and qualifications. Don’t go in to long, detailed descriptions, which frequently confuse applicants. Use simple words everyone can understand and keep sentences short.
Describing the Job
Stick to the basics of the job requirements and skills. Don’t write the description based on how the previous employee may have performed the job.
Provide enough detail about the job that applicants can easily understand what is required of them. Vague or poorly written job descriptions often result in unqualified candidates applying for the job, which extends the hiring process and wastes time.
Benefits of Writing Job Descriptions
- Job descriptions can be helpful for determining interview questions and creating job ads.
- They may provide legal documentation needed for lawsuits.
- By defining job duties within the job description, you’ll have a better understand of training requirements for new employees.
- Detailed job descriptions can be used to decide on how employees should be compensated for the job and whether potential bonuses come in to play.
- A useful resource for managing the performance of employees.
Remember, small businesses only stand to benefit from writing job descriptions. By writing job descriptions before hiring, you may avoid confusion, unqualified applicants and potential lawsuits.
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