Job Description: It's Not to Be Taken Lightly!
A job description is a detailed written agreement between management
and an employee that specifies the duties of a specific position. The
description often includes responsibilities of both the employee and
management along with the chain of command and a list of required
skills, expected education, physical abilities, and equipment used for
perspective employees for this position. Many descriptions include
sections about the expected work environment including possible hazards
of the workplace.
Questions about Job Descriptions?
It's helpful to ask the right questions regarding job descriptions.
Many important questions should be considered when reading the text for
a position you might be interested in seeking.
- Who creates these documents and for what
- How restrictive is the language of the
description and how completely must the applicant meet the requirements
when applying for the position?
- Is there room to grow into the job, or must you
be ready to enter with all the required skills in tact?
- What about disabled applicants?
- Is there room for adjustments in the work
environment to accommodate certain disabilities, or is the workplace
inflexible and restrict the job to potential employees with discernable
- What is the chain of command in the position?
- To whom would you report and would you be
- If the applicant is a supervisor, how many
employees and at what skill levels and positions will the person hired
for the position be supervising?
- Will the position be paid hourly or will it be
a salaried job.
- Is there a union involved with the company and,
if so, are you required to join to keep the job?
Knowing why employers construct a descriptions the way they do will
help you create your resume in a way that caters to the employer. So
let's peek at job descriptions from the employer's point of view.
Employer, What Value Do Employee Job Descriptions Bring to Your
Well-written descriptions present an organizational flowchart for your
workplace. They offer a clear-cut chain of responsibility for every
step in your operation. Presented properly, the job description can
demonstrate the company's direction along with each employee's place in
the company's overall picture. This, if done properly, has the
potential to assist every employee in realizing how important their
roles are to the success of the company; therefore, making each feel
more a part of the "Big Picture." The more important the employee feels
his or her contribution is to the success of the team, the more likely
he or she is to work smarter, which benefits everyone involved.
Ultimately, the customers are the biggest winners and are more likely
to return when they need more of what you offer! Win-Win-Win.
A well-written description aids both the employee and employer in
determining exactly what is expected from each. It is the first place
to look when there is a breakdown in workflow to see where the system
has stopped working properly. Is the employee not doing what is
expected for the job to progress? Is the employee doing his best in an
environment that is not compatible? Is more training needed? Does the
company need to put extra people in that position during extreme times?
The flowchart job descriptions provide give you the key to unravel a
multitude of problems.
You can't overlook the Legal aspects of a well-written job description.
Compliance can be a dirty word if not met head on. The job description
is the perfect place to specify work conditions and physical
requirements to satisfy organizations such as the "American's With
Disabilities Act" (ADA) and "Occupational Safety and Health
Administration" (OSHA). Overlooking these aspects of the job
description can lead to costly down time, fines, and even lawsuits.
Descriptions as a Recruiting Tool
Well-written descriptions are an invaluable tool when recruiting new
employees, whether from the Internet, in newspapers, through
recruiters, or from existing employees looking to move up in the
organization. A clearly written job-description will assist in
answering questions of rejected candidates as well as picking the
best-suited person for the open position.
To be a valuable tool in your business, the job description must be a
working part of the everyday life of the company. In this fast-paced
business world of ever-changing technologies and customer needs, the
job-description can't just sit dormant in a drawer for years after it
is written. Lying dormant will not only present minimal relevance for
the job in a very short time, but it also quickly becomes a restrictive
leash on the employer who gets the "It's not my job" attitude from
employees. The job description must have flexibility, with a review on
a quarterly or monthly basis, to keep up with changes not only in the
employees holding the positions but also the changing needs of the
company and clients. A great description is as important as any other
tool in the company's toolbox. It must be a device that allows good
employees to work outside the box and assist other team members. It
must allow the employee to take advantage of the fast-paced movement in
technologies without being punished for it. It is not just a source of
paper trails to use against employees to restrict promotions and block
salary increases and bonuses.
Description in its Place
Next, we look at what shows up on most job-search sites. There are
quite a few really good sites on the Internet that provide complete
job-descriptions including items like staffing levels, the position to
whom you would report, and the number and categories of employees who
will be reporting to you, along with detailed lists of duties,
responsibilities, equipment used, hours expected, and environmental
working information. You will also find accepted guidelines for
applying and dates applications will be accepted. Everything you need
to know as a job applicant when searching for positions that fit your
capabilities can be found. Most of these postings include acceptable
alternatives to individual requirements such as Bachelor's degree
required, some college preferred, three years' experience with
increasing responsibilities, and/or a record of accomplishment in the
job's field of knowledge. You may even find positions offering on-the-job
training for applicants who have certain needed
skills to enter the position.
So why would anyone waste time applying for a job for which they are
nowhere near qualified? For most employers, the job description is what
the Human Resources department uses to choose which resumes or
applications are forwarded to the hiring supervisor. You should
understand that in a job market as overcrowded as the one we are
presently in, sometimes employees will try anything in desperation.
Sending in applications and resumes for jobs that you aren't qualified
for just slows down the process for valid candidates.
Spend time identifying the positions you truly want and then create a
Great Cover Letter to go with each submission. A few extra minutes may
mean the difference between being overlooked and being hired…or at
least interviewed. An employer will respect and respond to submissions
that address discrepancies in requirements if you include either
alternate experiences or advanced training that qualifies you for the
With the proper approach to reading and responding to an appropriate
description, your job search is sure to be a success!
from Job Description to Job Search