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Employers Guide: Writing a job description

Job descriptions are sometimes misunderstood and very often under-utilised. What is the purpose of a job description? How can you write a good job description? And what should you do when updating a job description?


Purpose of a Job Description

Google this question and you'll find a lot of information about hiring new candidates. A good description of the job is not just important for candidates. A job description is so much more than stating what a position may involve or entail for a job applicant, rather it should inform the employee and all other parties of the expectations, roles, responsibilities and requirements of a job.


It shouldn't just be used when hiring a new person, but rather it should be referred to regularly during their induction, their first 90 days and during performance reviews.

Most of all, a job description should be a living document. If the responsibilities of a role changes, the changes should be reflected in a updated job description. Doing this will enable new expectations to be measured fairly and any concerns to be voiced. It will also help with training and planning for the evolution of the role.


How to write a good job description

A good job description will include all the details an employee will need to do their job effectively. This includes knowing the following:

  • Who they report to

  • The purpose of their position

  • Detailed description of their duties and responsibilities (tasks)

  • Expected outcomes of each task

  • Skills needed to complete these tasks and meet the expected outcomes

  • Key behaviours or performance indicators

It is important to include all tasks that are involved in the role to avoid communication breakdowns, misunderstandings and uncompleted tasks.


How to update a job description

As your business grows and changes, it is natural that the roles within your organisation will grow and change. These changes should be reflected within an updated job description. If there is a permanent addition or subtraction to the role that your employee signed up to do, it is beneficial to reflect this by changing their job description.


Note: You must follow good process when doing this including consulting with the employee affected, so seek advice before changing any job description.


In conclusion

A job description is a key tool in making sure that you and your employee are on the same page. Transparency in this area will help to cultivate a strong working relationship which will help your employee and therefore your business to thrive. It can also be used to measure the growth of your business as a whole and the growth and development of your employee.


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