Five Reasons Your Company Needs Solid Job Descriptions

job descriptIn a previous article, you might have read how much goes into a solid job description, and now you might be thinking, “Do I really have to write one of those??” The answer is, yes. While it’s an often loathed assignment, writing the job description is crucial to hiring and managing. Many managers prefer to put off the task or, to their detriment, pen a vague, generalized paragraph or two, but that won’t work. Here’s why you need good job descriptions.

  1. Job descriptions list and define essential job functions. Essential functions are the fundamental job duties performed in a position. Functions may include the physical (for example, lifting, sitting and standing), the intellectual (such as organizing, problem solving and communicating) and mixed (such as using specific computer programs or writing reports). A function may be deemed “essential” when the position exists to perform that function, there are a limited number of employees available who could perform that function, the function is highly specialized and/or the employee is hired for special expertise. A job description does not generally include marginal functions, which are extra or incidental duties.
  1. A written job description is a hiring tool. Communicating job expectations and requirements in a job description can help attract qualified candidates. A job description gives potential job applicants a sense of whether they should apply for the job. The clearer the requirements, duties and responsibilities, the better the job can be represented in advertising. This translates into less time spent sorting applications. Having a solid job description will make the interviewers’ task easier as well. If interviewers have a clear understanding of the position, it is easier for them to find out whether an interviewee can perform the tasks listed in the job description.
  1. Job descriptions help employees and management identify and meet the demands of specified roles. A solid job description will help identify the qualifications, skills, experience and education needed by someone in the job, ensuring the right person is hired to meet specific needs. The job description will also help establish boundaries between positions. For example, when compared side by side, job descriptions might delineate distinctions between a computer programmer and a computer operator.
  1. A job description is a basis for measurement. Job descriptions will clarify the expectations for someone working in a job and help describe what it takes to be successful in that job. Effective performance management requires that the manager identify the job duties that each employee is expected to accomplish, making the job description a crucial reference point. Job descriptions should offer a detailed and accurate picture of what skills and actions are necessary for successful performance. If employees are not meeting expectations, job descriptions can become tools for helping them improve. Being able to refer to a list of specific duties and responsibilities makes it easier for a supervisor to pinpoint where and how a staff member isn’t meeting standards and to discuss potential remedies. If the employee does not respond, the job description gives the organization a standard to use in documenting the staff member’s failure to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the position, and down the line, if necessary, to terminate the employee for non-performance.
  1. Job descriptions prevent arbitrary interpretations of roles. Job descriptions should define the position for the organization and for potential applicants, and do so legally. If there is doubt that employees are doing their jobs or being asked to perform duties outside of their position, job descriptions should be able to clarify roles and expectations. The description should also make it clear who is ultimately responsible for specific tasks or areas.

Excelsior Pay Group is proficient in writing job descriptions. For more information, call 888-444-4090 or email

Katherine Gotthardt, CEO

Katherine Gotthardt, M.Ed., writing concentration, has been writing, editing and teaching for more than twenty years. For the past ten years, she has focused on content development and content marketing for small to mid-size businesses, writing and disseminating material that increases client visibility while supporting their brand. Besides being published in dozens of journals, Katherine has authored five books: Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water and Bury Me Under a Lilac. Learn more about her creative life at