What is a job description?
A job description refers to a specific position and is a summary of the employee's duties, rights, and required competencies. It is both parts – of the job offer and employee documentation. Find out why it is crucial to write it correctly.
A job description is a text containing various information about a position. In the recruitment process, it is a part of the job advertisement. In the employment process, it is often an attachment to the contract, concluded with a new employee as the employer is obliged to acquaint employees with the scope of their duties.
The job description should include:
a description of the place in the company's structure, indicating the employee's superiors/subordinates;
range of required skills;
scope of authority;
the employee's responsibilities.
Every position in the company should have its description, but entrepreneurs (e.g., in Poland) are not obliged to use specific templates for job descriptions. There is also no universal job description template. However, while writing job descriptions, you can take inspiration from guidelines for job descriptions in, for example, the civil service or state administration.
Their structures usually contain all the necessary sections the job description should have.
The job description is crucialf or at least two reasons.
Firstly, the job description is the most important part of a job offer, its heart. If it stands out and is written with precision and clarity, it will get the attention of the candidates you care about most.
Secondly, every employer has to acquaint the employee with the position's requirements. He can do it verbally because the law does not require a written form, but it's better to create a document that includes all the necessary information. A job description is a right way to give the new employees essential information about their new job. The description can be an attachment to the employment contract or, depending on company policy, be a document available to everyone, for example, in an employee database. Access to information about requirements helps the employee to get familiar with the company's hierarchy and get to know the new workplace faster. It makes it easier to assign tasks to an employee, make the employee responsible for the performance of tasks, set goals, and guide further development.
From the HR department's point of view, a job description is a key to successful recruitment and a tool to help manage employee development.
A job advertisement and a job description are not the same! A job advertisement is built from several elements, including a job description.
A job description should be functional. Whether it is a part of a job ad or an internal company document. Anyone who reaches for it is supposed to get complete information about the position. The description should include the following elements:
The name of the position – a full, precise job title, unique from other positions in the company.
Purpose of the position – information specifying why the position was created and its importance.
Place in the company's hierarchy – a statement of the employee's place in the company, with an indication of the employee's subordination.
Working conditions – where, when, and how the job duties will be carried out, what's the salary range and the hourly rate.
Responsibilities – defining what the employee will be responsible for to superiors.
Terms of reference – defining and specifying the tasks and duties of an employee in a given position, without describing how they will be carried out.
Employee's authority – defining the activities for which the employee is authorized.
Hazards – identification of factors that may hinder the performance of tasks or pose a threat to the employee.
Education – required education.
Qualifications – definition of experience, knowledge, competence, and preferred qualifications, required for the position.
Skills – identification of additional skills, useful for the position.
The level of detail in the description should be adapted to the requirements of the position i.e. to the employee's work experience and education.
The well-prepared job description is your chance to recruit the right talent. It should be:
Relatively short and transparent – in the offer, provide information about the essential tasks of the position.
Written in accessible language – accessible to the ideal audience, as we have a different way of wording content for professionals and a different way for newcomers to the industry;
Redible – the job description must contain authentic information. Otherwise, you can be sure that the hired candidates will quickly turn into former employees who will additionally speak negatively about the company.
Remember, when you create a description, you shouldn't understate/overstate the job requirements. If you understate them – the position will be filled by people without the right competencies, who later will be unable to perform their duties. If you overstate them, you won't find anyone in the recruitment process, or you will get overqualified people. They will quickly become demotivated by the position because they won't be able to perform professionally to their full potential.
A job description has three functions:
attracts preferred candidates with the required competencies;
makes it easier for new employees to „navigate” the company and is a „checklist” of duties for them;
enables the Human Resources department to plan employee development paths.
Although the description is not a mandatory document, it's a good idea to take the time and prepare it diligently plus make updates periodically. Thanks to the job description, candidates will receive transparent data about the position, new employees will learn the company structure, and the HR department will be able to recruit more effectively and better manage the team's development.