Writing the Perfect Job Description

Job descriptions are a key tool for streamlining the hiring process and guaranteeing that you find candidates who best fit your organization’s current needs. Writing job descriptions is a valuable exercise both for the employer and for those seeking employment. Sitting down and thinking through a job description helps the employer to crystallize the position and demystifies the qualifying criteria for the potential employee long before the interview process.While writing a great job description isn’t particularly complicated, it is important to keep the following key components in mind:

1. Include the position title. Be sure to mention if there are levels to the position (i.e. Senior, Vice-President, Trainee, Entry-Level, Intern, &c.). This establishes more accurate expectations for potential employees as far as anticipated skill level, and aids your organization in categorizing your new hire properly by wage and hour standards like those outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

2. List the pay range. Most importantly, is this position salaried or hourly? This will often effect the status of the employee (exempt or non-exempt). Compliance with federal and state wage law is required under the Equal Pay Act, so be sure to use it as a point of reference when deciding on the pay range for your new hire.

3. Mention whether the position is exempt or non-exempt status. Non-exempt employees receive overtime pay, while exempt employees do not. To decide whether an employee is exempt or not, your organization must evaluate how much an employee is paid, how they are paid (hourly or salaried) and what type of work they do. The Department of Labor website provides a thorough list of exemption guidelines in their “Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act.”

4. Outline specific duties and responsibilities for the position. This is the section to be particularly thorough with. It’s often a good idea to sit down with current supervisors and/or employees and get input from them on what the job will require. Separate duties by those which will be essential job functions and make up the primary percentage of the position, those that are nonessential or occasional functions, and the skills necessary for completing these duties.

5. Specify the required training and experience for eligible applicants. These can include years in a certain industry or position, education and technological skills.

Job descriptions should extend beyond the life of the job posting. When written thoughtfully, they become a tool for performance evaluations and should be kept up-to-date and relevant. When a position changes, as they so often do in today’s business environment, be sure those alterations are reflected in the job description. In extreme cases, well written, frequently updated job descriptions protect employers in the event of a lawsuit as well. This document is a vital tool when disciplinary measures must be taken or a termination is being considered. It can be referenced when written reprimands, employee improvement plans or Notices of Termination are drafted.

A carefully written job description is beneficial to both the employer and the potential employee. Forcing yourself to think about the specifics of a position can provide you with a more clear idea about exactly how you want your new employee to function within the company, as well as what attributes the person will need to succeed in your organization. Be sure to take your time in this crucial part of the hiring process!

Additional Reading:

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About Pamiris, Inc.
Pamiris is an outsourced payroll, HR, and time tracking service provider with offices located in Portland, OR and Spokane, WA.

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