job description

Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Good Job Description

June 7, 2016 By: Dave Rietsema
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Job descriptions have been around since the advent of jobs themselves, but the importance of job descriptions from a big picture focus is often underestimated. Many HR professionals and recruiters tend to put off writing or updating job descriptions, feeling that other tasks are more important. When hiring and even after an employee has been hired, however, a good job description may have a much larger impact on the workplace than anticipated.

Can Help Attract the Right Employee

A thorough and accurate job description is invaluable in attracting the right employee for the job. If qualifications are specified, employees that do not fit the criteria will be less likely to apply. This can save valuable recruitment time by limiting the amount of applications that come through the door and improving the quality of the applications that do come in.

May Assist with Retention and Satisfaction

From an employee candidate perspective, a job description is a sample snapshot of what their life with the company will look like. If a job description is inaccurate, the employee will feel that the company has been deceitful and will be much more likely to quit. If a job description is accurate, on the other hand, the employee will be more likely to enjoy their job and feel a loyalty for the company.

Helps to Guide Training

Discerning the type and depth of training that a new employee requires is a difficult task, but a complete job description may help to make it a little easier. If a job description is thorough, it will be easy to see where a new employee falls short of the knowledge, skills, or qualifications of the position and requires addition training. Using this skills gap as a guide, a customized training plan can be devised that may help to get the employee into an actionable position faster.

Can Be Used to Gauge Performance

After hire, an in-depth job description can serve as a tool to gauge performance. The points that are outlined in the description can be used as expectation guidelines. When the probationary period is over or when it is time for employee reviews, the job description can be used to identify shortcomings or areas where the employee is exceeding expectations.

May Aid Autonomy and Empowerment

While employees will invariably require some training to get into position, after they are trained a well organized job description may help to serve as a checklist of expected job tasks. Depending on the complexity of the position, this may help employees to perform the normal job functions with little supervision and guidance on the part of management. This can improve all-around productivity as employees feel empowered to dive right into the work and managers have little need to micro-manage.

Provides Protection after Terminations

While job descriptions can help to attract qualified employees, a bad hire may still find a way in. In this case, a good job description may serve as back-up documentation for poor performance. If the expectations were outlined from the beginning, it will be easier to pinpoint and document exactly where the employee’s performance did not meet standards.


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