At first glance, a written job description
may seem like a waste of time. Your employees know what they have
to do every day. Why do they need a piece of paper telling them
what you think is obvious?
The truth is that even for the smallest
business accurate and up-to-date information on your employees,
what they do and, more importantly, what they are responsible for,
Why you need good job descriptions
For current employees, these descriptions are
used for assessing training needs, measuring performance, and
making sure all relevant equal opportunity legislation is adhered
But the job description is also a crucial
part of any recruitment process for future employees.
Itís more than just a list of what that
member of staff should do: itís a guide to tasks, duties,
responsibilities, character traits and style. Anyone reading it
should instantly come away knowing exactly what the perfect person
for that job needs to be like.
Having job descriptions for all employees
will also help to delegate tasks and responsibilities and make
sure everything is getting done. It will also guarantee that jobs
arenít overlapping and staff arenít confused about who they
What should a job description look like?
The ideal format for a job description will
vary for each job. But there are some basic areas that need to be
Start with the job title, short and to the point.
Who they report to:
Usually the job titles only. Names may change but the structure
will probably remain the same.
Summary of basic function:
A brief synopsis of what the position involves, why the tasks need
to be done, and what the outcome should be.
List of main duties:
Arrange in order of importance and, if possible, concentrate on
what the outcome should be rather than the method. Remember that a
job description isnít a manual. Use good descriptive words such
as "directs", "examines", or
"advises" to get across how important the tasks are. Be
as precise as possible by avoiding words like
State the type of supervision the employee will need to give, how
many people they are likely to supervise, and what exactly those
people will be doing.
This is an optional requirement that is included to help guide any
Area catering manager.
Organizing and controlling the day-to-day operation of the
companyís staff catering contract with ABC Steel Inc.
Determine day-to-day catering arrangements with
clients to ensure good working relationship.
Work with chef to plan menus to contract
Supervise the purchase and storage of food to ensure
compliance with company standards and legal requirements.
Keep all accounting records on takings and expenses
to ensure accurate returns.
Manage and hire staff to ensure good cover and
required delivery of service.
Supervise approximately 13 staff, including a deputy manager.
These will include both kitchen staff and front-of-house staff.
Management qualifications up to degree level, basic food hygiene.
What you should do next
The job description process shouldnít end
there. Remember that itís a document that should serve the
current incumbent of the position, and also any subsequent
holders. Itís the benchmark you will use to hire them and as
such canít be rushed or just rattled out in ten minutes.
Take your first draft and show it to whoever
has the job now. What do they think? Do they think it includes
everything they do? Give a copy to their immediate superior and
ask them the same question.
This is a potentially interesting exercise in
its own right as it will tell you whether the three of you agree
on that personís duties and responsibilities Ė you might be
Rewrite and tweak the description until
youíre all happy with it. Then submit it to your personnel or
human resources department if you have one. They will tell you
whether it complies with any legal requirements or if youíve
missed out any other necessary inclusions.
Writing a whole series of job descriptions
can be a laborious process and full of moments that make you think
youíre stating the obvious. However, their existence will save
you time in the future by making your recruitment, training and
assessment methods significantly more efficient.