WRITING JOB DESCRIPTIONS

By Carol Nibley

Recently I asked a group of HR practitioners if they enjoyed writing job descriptions. The response was a resounding “no.” We then discussed the practical uses of job descriptions, and everyone agreed that up-to-date and accurate descriptions are absolutely essential for the following reasons:

  • Recruiting and selection
  • Compensation administration
  • Establishing performance standards/performance appraisals
  • Training
  • Affirmative action planning
  • Legal defense
  • Career paths and succession planning
  • Organizational design

For example, suppose you were planning to fill an open position. Without a current job description, how would you be able to tell candidates what they will be doing or find candidates with the right skills? How do you know if your salary range for the position will entice the talent you need? How do you determine if the position should be exempt or non-exempt? How do you describe success in the position without knowing the performance standards? These are just a few of many questions a well written job description can answer.

When researching data about positions and creating job descriptions, you’ll find that one of your best resources is found on O*Net: http://www.onetonline.org/. Not only can you find comprehensive information about tasks, job specifications, and related occupations, but also you have access to wage information and can create custom descriptions with just a few clicks. Creating accurate job descriptions can be simplified by taking advantage of online resources.

Writing job descriptions may not be fun, but the benefits are great. If you haven’t updated your job descriptions recently, consider the value to your organization of doing so.

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