Job Descriptions: Yes, They Matter.

Job Descriptions: Yes, They Matter

Samantha Badr


‘Tis the season, HR professionals! *Job Descriptions* have made their debut and it’s about time we updated these things. Businesses are beginning to make a comeback and hire new talent, which means job descriptions have made it to the top of the priority list.

Most of the time, job descriptions are updated in conjunction with annual performance reviews or as a part of the recruiting process. However, over the last two years, many employees have found themselves wearing multiple hats to compensate for the loss of staff and/or new workplace procedures. Thus, the importance of updating job descriptions. Employees need a clear guideline of their essential functions so they can be clear on what’s expected of them. While doing so, organizations are given the opportunity to reassess the skills needed to perform in particular positions. Furthermore, job descriptions can play a crucial role in performance reviews, career development, setting salary/pay grade levels, and even recruitment.

Every job description should be based on the results of a thorough job analysis. For my non-HR readers – this is the process of gathering, examining, and interpreting data about a job’s tasks. A job analysis can include interviewing and observing employees to find out what tasks are being performed, having employees fill out questionnaires, and collecting data on jobs from salary surveys. The results should be documented and reviewed by the employee and their supervisor to account for changes such as knowledge, skills, abilities, physical characteristics, environmental factors, and credentials/experience of the position.

Job descriptions include the minimum qualifications and skills needed to perform a job, as well as defining job title and job grade. Other specifics are included such as performance standards, management expectations, scope and limits of authority, hours, job location, and travel requirements. When creating a job description for a new position, HR professionals should work closely with managers to identify what business needs are and why a particular job role is critical to their organization.

It’s important to note that job descriptions and job postings are two different things. A job posting is what an organization uses to sell itself and an open position – while a job description is about compliance and covering the essential functions, qualifications, and physical requirements of the job. Job descriptions should always include the outcomes the position is responsible for, why the outcomes are important, and what the organization’s values are. A common mistake an HR professional can make is writing job descriptions that are too wordy and overly complicated. Instead, they should focus on simplicity and include the minimum requirements needed to achieve desired outcomes. Oh, and by the way, please stop listing unnecessary degree requirements or excessive years of experience. Give employees a chance! More likely than not – they are just as determined to achieve success as the applicants who check off the “right boxes”.

Although job descriptions aren’t considered “fun”, they can help strengthen an organization’s emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion in its recruitment strategies. Surveys have shown that job seekers can experience barriers due to a gap in work history, frequent job changes, or minimal work experience. It’s important that employers consider how they can reach all demographics and provide equal access to available opportunities. To eliminate bias in recruiting practices, organizations should focus on levels of experience rather than years of experience, as well as contextual performance, and an applicant’s ability to collaborate/contribute to company culture.

A long list of requirements on a job posting can deter many good candidates from applying for a role because they may feel they cannot meet every qualification. Speaking from experience, it’s really hard searching for jobs. Even with a master’s degree, I spent almost two years applying to countless jobs. After a while, it became very discouraging to see that I met the educational requirements but not the years of experience needed for an HR role. After many interviews, I was finally granted the opportunity to showcase my capabilities and work ethic. So, from me to you – keep trying! If you’re looking for a job, I feel your pain – and if you have a job, I also feel your pain.

Stay safe everyone! Until next time…

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