MKS HR Blog April 2016 PostJob Description-what is it & why do I need one?

Last month you discovered there is a difference between a Job Posting and a Job Description.  This month MKS HR will let you know what a Job Description is and why all businesses that employ staff absolutely must have one.

The purpose of a job description is setting the employer’s expectations around what the employee is supposed to do in a particular role.  When a business has a solid job description in place it can be used in other areas such as performance management. So from the list of responsibilities you can define and document performance standards for the key components of the job.  These are tied back to the company’s overall objectives and goals, thus measuring an employee’s performance during a particular time frame.

Another area that a fully completed job description can be used, is around the employee’s professional or career development.  The job description sets out what requirements are needed in order to perform that job.  In many instances when an employee is hired into a position they may not have every single qualification.  They could have the main, must have’s, but there’s a gap still.  By using the job description you can identify the gap and create a development plan in order for that gap to be filled.

For example, a Social Media Coordinator role requires the person to have a strong knowledge on certain social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.  The person that you have hired doesn’t have a strong knowledge of Periscope, as it’s a new platform that is starting to be used.

This can be an opportunity to use the job description to identify where the gap is, create a development plan of that employee to learn Periscope, thus closing the gap.

Now let’s dive into what a proper job description looks like:

  1. Appropriate Job Title-It’s tempting to be creative here and give a job a fancy title, but you want the title to tell people exactly what the job is. For example, Talent Delivery Specialist is an embellished title for Recruiter.  While the title sounds elaborate, it really doesn’t speak to what you will be doing in the job.
  2. List of Duties-Here is where you list out the responsibilities of the job-i.e. what the employee is expected to do.  It’s also recommended to represent this as a percentage.  For example with an Administrative Assistant job, 10% of the role is filing, 40% of the role is data entry or clerical duties, etc.  Ideally you want this list not too long because then it will turn into a manual rather than a job description.  If you are a smaller company, it’s possible you will have more tasks associated to the duties, and this is because in smaller companies roles tend to overlap. So an Office Manager, manages the day to day of the office, but some tasks could fall into the areas of recruiting employees, payroll, bookkeeping, or customer service.
  3. Skills & Competencies- Competencies are the traits you expect the person to display in the position.  A skill on the other hand are those activities that the employee performs based on their past work experience or qualifications they have acquired.  For example strong communication is a competency because the employee is displaying that competency when they communicate with their manager, coworkers, etc.  An example of a skill is being able to deliver effective presentations- this can be learned by doing presentations in past roles.  The trend now is to have more competency-based job descriptions, but MKS HR feels that skills and competencies are equally as important.  They both set out the performance expectations and can help in building development plans for the employee’s development within that role and the company as a whole.
  4. Reporting Relationships-It is important to have in your job description the role the employee is reporting to.  In some cases a certain role may have, what’s called a “dotted-line reporting relationship.” In that instance the role can have other positions that it indirectly reports to.  The direct reporting relationship is the person who the employee is managed by.  For example, a Recruiter will report into a Human Resources Manager, but works very closely with other members of the HR team, such as employee relations or compensation.  The Recruiter’s performance is evaluated by the HR Manager.

If a job description is written properly then it will serve its true purpose of acting as a measuring tool for job performance, or a tool used in the professional /career development of the employee.

Please subscribe to the MKS HR Blog for more tips and updates. If you require any help in writing a job description for your business please contact MKS HR Consulting for a Complimentary Consultation.