Writing a Job Description

A job description is essentially a written outline of the all the tasks a position entails and all the skills required. You need job descriptions for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Preparing job advertisements
  • Interviewing applicants
  • Evaluating employees' performances
  • Comparing pay between employees
  • Providing proof of the job functions, for example for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Providing evidence that your personnel practices are fair, should you ever need to defend them in court

Outline for a Simple Job Description

  1. The first step is to identify the larger tasks involved in the job. These should be general, overall tasks that encompass smaller activities. For instance, a task might be "greeting customers" or "bookkeeping".
  2. When you've listed all the tasks involved, rank them in order of importance. Some ways to measure importance are frequency of the task; impact to the profit of the business; relationship to future growth; importance of the task in supporting management or key players; role of the task in maintaining the day-to-day functions of the business.
  3. Write down each activity associated with each task you've outlined. So, for "greeting customers," you might list answering the phone, manning the reception desk, welcoming customers who walk in, or responding to email inquiries.
  4. Finally, list the skills required to perform each activity outlined in #3.