Job Descriptions – The 5 W’s (And The H Too!)

Snoopy Job Description

Over the weekend, I was doing some browsing on job boards (I like to keep a beat on new opportunities) and I found a couple of positions that I thought would be awesome opportunities. What I didn’t find, was specifics on what the job consisted of, experience the employer was looking for, KSA’s I should have…in other words…these job descriptions were missing the most important thing…a description! So here’s my PSA for those of you who are a little challenged in the area of creating job descriptions.

The What?

So what is a job description? The most basic definition of a job description is a written document (although, with new technology, this doesn’t necessarily apply, I’ll touch on that in a few) that contains information about a job. A good job description will be a bit more detailed and should contain some information as to the classification of the job according to the FLSA (exempt/non-exempt), who the job reports too, a salary range, a detailed description of the position, essential job functions (in order to remain complaint with the ADA), your description should also include any non-essential functions, and equipment use associated with the job. In addition, your description should also list the education, experience and any applicable KSA’s the candidate should have.

The Who?

This is a two-pronged answer, normally a job description is meant for candidates looking to fill a position in or your organization, it describes in detail what the candidate will be expected to do and what your expectations of the candidate will be. However, a job description can be used internally as well. Job descriptions should form the basis of your performance management strategy once you have filled the position. It is a reference that you and your employee can use to be able to set expectations and create goals.

The Why?

Aside from the compliance benefits of a job description I mentioned in ‘The What and the PM benefits mentioned in ‘The Who,’ your recruiters will love you for it. A detailed job description should help weed out unqualified candidates from applying (at least in theory) for your positions. This in turn helps recruiters save time from sorting through unqualified resumes and should (again in theory) reduce your time to fill.

The Where?

This one is a bit of a no brainer, your job descriptions should be posted on your company’s jobsite, as well as other internet job boards like Careerbuilder, Monster, Indeed, etc. I would be remiss in failing to mention the importance of social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and even Twitter in getting the word out about any open positions and attracting qualified candidates for those positions. However, using social media may be more of a recruiting related post, so I won’t go into much detail here.

The When?

The ideal time to create a job description should be when your HR team is working on job classifications/analysis, JD’s are normally the result of a job analysis. A job analysis will define the basic functions of a particular through close observation from a member of your HR team, as well as interviews with employees and line supervisors, for a nitty gritty on how to conduct a job analysis click here. JD’s aren’t permanent, so they can always be revisited and revised in order to meet the changes that come with a particular position. Keep in mind that correct classification of a job is crucial in avoiding unnecessary litigation fees that might come up due to incorrect classification (exempt/non-exempt, etc.).

The How?

If you haven’t noticed…technology is changing the way businesses attract and recruit their talent (you ain’t in Kansas no more! – sorry, it just seemed appropriate). Over the summer I ran across a talent acquisition manager who had posted a video description of a job that he was recruiting for on Vimeo.  In it, he pretty much ran through the basic structure of a job description for example: who the position would be reporting too, the basic functions of the job, the experience they were looking for in a candidate, etc. (I wish I could post a link to it but the video is no longer available). This a great example of how organizations are leveraging the use of technology to be able to cast a wider net in the talent pool (and yes…I understand this is more of a recruiting tactic as opposed to creating a job description per se, but you have to admit…it sure beats creating a Word document).

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Categories: Human Resources, Recruiting

Tags: , , , , ,

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