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What's in a job description?

What’s in your Job Description? Have you looked at it lately or thought about it? Does it still make sense?

Whether or not your description is on target, if you’re looking for help, have you thought about what you really need? Are the technical/education skills noted really what are needed to make the employee successful in the job?

Job descriptions are important in business. They help business owners/managers determine what is really needed when hiring, and they help candidates know if the job is something they may be suited for. With labor shortages, it can be easy to simply look for warm bodies, but if you bring someone on without really knowing what specific duties you need them to embrace, you could be wasting your time and theirs.

Often companies review job descriptions when they conduct annual reviews, but I’d question how thoroughly they’re read. Many times, it’s a “check the box” action just to get through the review. While roles change and changes need to be addressed, a key time in securing a valid description is upon hire. Knowing the requirements can help managers identify the skills needed and helps clarify expectations when the new hire starts.

I’ve talked with many individuals who start new positions and don’t really know what they’re supposed to do. They may or may not have been presented with a job description, and more often than not, no one has thoroughly discussed the expectations beyond generalized terms. In addition, often the descriptions talk about education or technical skills that may be outdated: does the job really require a specific degree or field of study or would generalized information work? Or do they really need an advanced degree if they have work experience?

Miscommunication can lead good candidates astray and/or out the door. In addition, it’s much easier to train for specifics when you both know what they are! And how do you hold individuals accountable if they don’t know what they’re supposed to do?

Job descriptions really aren’t that difficult. What do you need and what’s the best way to get there? Preplanning can make moving forward much less chaotic! If and when something changes, that can be addressed—but you do have to actually address it!

Clarify responsibilities—that’ll help you successfully manage your team!

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