Peak Performance: Your Job Description

Do you have a copy of your job description at your desk? Have you ever seen your job description? Does it accurately reflect what is expected of you?

Job descriptions play a vital role in your compensation, because employers decide what to pay people based on the value of specific skills. Add up the list of responsibilities in your job description, and you should get the totality of your expected contribution in both qualitative and quantitative terms. Without a written job description, you and your employer cannot accurately measure your worth on the job.

A job decription should state the overall purpose for the position and include a list of the main tasks. The definitions of these tasks customarily start with action verbs and express specifically what is to be done and why. A job description usually contains no more than eight tasks, although senior positions can include more. These definitions describe in general terms why the job exists and how it will ultimately contribute to the objectives of the company or organization.

If you don't have a job description, work with your supervisor to prepare one before your next performance review. Start by listing what is expected of you, along with the purpose and function of your job. Write down your main duties and list any objectives management has set for you. For example, a salesperson might have quarterly revenue targets, while a software engineer might have to complete some number of projects by year-end.

As your performance review approaches, your manager should give you a copy of your job description to help you prepare. If you do not receive one from your supervisor or the person conducting your performance review, ask for one.