Job Descriptions:  Why have them?

By Allison Villarreal, PHR, SHRM-CP

According to Wikipedia, “A job description is a document that describes the general tasks, or functions, and responsibilities of a position.”  Regrettably, a job description is much more than the definition states.

While job descriptions are not required by law, they are an important tool for companies and their employees.  Properly written job descriptions are helpful in the recruiting process as you search for a new hire.  The defined job specifications will allow not only prospective employees to evaluate themselves, but also allow the employer to take into consideration any applicant who does have the minimum necessary qualifications in order to succeed in performing the job functions.

Another important benefit of the job description is it gives the employee a written definition of position.  By providing this document to the employee, they will know:

  • the position’s title,
  • assigned department,
  • classification (exempt or non-exempt),
  • the “reports to” job title,
  • summary and purpose,
  • essential job responsibilities,
  • knowledge, skills and/or abilities,
  • experience and education (to include licenses or certifications, as applicable) requirements, and
  • physical demands, work environments, or other work-related essentials.

The employee will know what is expected for job performance, and the employer will have a written document in which the employee’s performance can be measured.

A third point to take into consideration about job descriptions is that while they are not required by law, they are a legal document and can have a significant impact in a court case, particularly if the case involves any federal or state anti-discrimination laws; e.g., Americans with Disabilities (ADA).  Also, U.S. Government Contractors may be found in breach of contract by the DCAA if an employee is assigned to a position in which the employee does not qualify.

If writing or updating your company’s job descriptions has been put on the shelf until a later time, please contact Allison Villarreal,