of job titles appear in a variety of forms in the workplace. Recruitment
ads, compensation surveys and other benchmarking tools, as well
as corporate or departmental development plans all use some method
of describing a job.
brief descriptions of highlighted positions that are seen in compensation
surveys and other benchmarking tools are called job descriptors.
These outline the major responsibilities associated with the position
that can be applied universally. These are therefore sometimes standardized.
While they may contain details like exemption status or job location,
they are not required to be as specific as job descriptions.
human resources focus
Job descriptions are used for different purposes by the employee
and the human resources department. A human resources office uses
job descriptions for the following purposes.
a definition of the functions and responsibilities of a
a mechanism for recruitment.
employee training and development (establishing and updating
Forsuccession planning or organizational development (for
example, what additional tasks can be applied for the growth of
the organization as a whole?).
establishing legal defensibility(based on what
the potential hire would be doing).
benchmark the company's positions against those described
by descriptors in salary surveys.
When looking for a job, a candidate can request a copy of the job
description at the interview. The candidate can then do research
to benchmark the position against its placement in the market, in
order to participate in an informed negotiation process. The description
should better inform the candidate about what kind of offer to accept
from a potential employer. At the very least, a new employee should
receive a copy of the job description within the first week on the
employee's job description should be reviewed at performance review
time to make sure it accurately reflects the employee's current
job responsibilities. It should be used by both employee and manager
as a tool for establishing development goals.
reevaluating a job description, the employee and the manager can
work on renewing it together, based on the work that has been and
needs to be done. The revised description should then be reviewed
by human resources professionals to assure that it is legally defensible.
elements of a job description
Before understanding what a job description entails, it's important
to understand fully the technical definition of a job. A job is
a collection of tasks, duties, or responsibilities assigned to an
individual. A job exists regardless of who performs the functions.
Even when no one occupies the job, it still exists.
description simply describes the job. It should not have language
or technical jargon that is difficult to understand. Every job description
should include the following.
location of the job.
job'sFair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) status(exempt or nonexempt).
position summary describing the purpose of the job.
responsibilities, describing the job as it currently exists
and including the essential duties of the job. These are
tasks for which the employee is evaluated. (Job descriptors outline
only a small portion of the responsibilities for which the employee
task is considered essential if the job exists in order to perform
the function. There are a limited number of people who can perform
the duties of a job, and failure to do so can adversely effect
good way to determine responsibilities is to estimate the number
of hours spent in performing a function within a 40-hour week.
The figures should be in percentages that make a sum of 100
qualifications, describing the minimum education, experience,
and skills necessary to perform the job.
decision reached in Griggs v. Duke Power Co. established
that an employer cannot require a higher qualification from
an applicant than what the job requires in its description.
An employer or an employee may argue that industry standards
require that position to have a more advanced degree, but employers
cannot legally refuse to hire someone because they fail to meet
the elevated standard.
conditions,describing work-related hazards and environmental
conditions that occur while performing the job. These might include,
for example, the presence of loud noises (such as in a manufacturing
facility), or the need to remain on one's feet or even crawl (such
as in carpentering).
Americans with Disabilities Act established that essential job
functions become a legal standard, in order to fight discrimination
against people of certain physical impairments.
job description is not meant to include any judgments. It should
not state what is expected in the future, and it should not discuss
how well the job is being performed. It may be used as a tool for
measuring and establishing further career development, but this
should be addressed in the employee's performance management plan.
when assessing a job description, the manager must ask: if the specific
employee left the job, would anything in the description change?
If not, then the description is as it should be.