A job description is a key tool for modern businesses. Whilst people typically associate job descriptions with the recruitment process, it’s easy to miss the finer details about what a well-written description can do.
At Paydata, our Job Description Support Service has allowed us to help hundreds of organisations craft the perfect business documentation for their goals and values. Leveraging over 40 years of combined experience, this guide is designed to cover exactly what the purpose of a job description is. By the end, you should have a stronger understanding of what makes a description valuable and what goals should be kept in mind during the writing process.
Defining role responsibilities
The most fundamental requirement of any job description is that it clearly and accurately explains the responsibilities of a given role within the business. This is both for recruitment and for employees, as without a clearly defined set of expectations, staff can’t be expected to deliver the work required by the organisation.
The job specification and role responsibilities are usually presented in a bullet-pointed style to ensure easy reading and understanding, but this varies from position to position. This allows candidates to understand exactly what they are applying for and to decide if their skills align with those required. Listing in bullet-point format also allows employers to go through the list during an interview to determine if the candidate is qualified enough.
Attracting top talent
Alongside explaining what a position entails, job descriptions also play a major role in getting top talent through the door and into the business. The strongest applicants utilise a job description, usually housed in a job posting, to decide both if a job is suitable for their skill set and if they would like to work at the business.
This puts a lot of pressure on the job description’s wording and presentation, as if there is a lack of depth, spelling mistakes, unclear language or an inappropriate tone, certain talent may be driven away instead of attracted. To this end, it’s key to ensure requirements for a role are fair and accurate, whilst the responsibilities of the position remain as clear as possible. Finally, an organisation’s values and culture need to be conveyed accurately, which brings us to the next point.
Promoting company values and culture
Job descriptions, even outside of the recruitment setting, can do wonders for promoting and emphasising the company mission, values and goals.
From a hiring perspective, tone, language and even job title usage can all impact the immediate reaction of potential talent. If a business wants to hire ambitious individuals who thrive in corporate settings, professional language and traditional job titles will be effective.
On the flip side, organisations in search of more relaxed, casual or sociable staff may want to opt for a friendlier or quirkier tone. That being said, certain industries lend themselves to certain voices and styles, which should also be carefully considered.
From an employee perspective, job descriptions can and should include language which drives the company mission. Any listed expectations should detail key responsibilities in the context of the organisation’s values and goals. For example, if honesty is a core company value, making transparency between management and staff a job requirement can help promote this further. Everything written in a job description can make a difference in the overall atmosphere and environment of a business setting.
Assisting in interview question preparation
For interviewers, particularly those who are hiring for a number of different roles simultaneously, it can be easy to get swamped and mix up which position you are interviewing for and which questions you would like to ask. A well-written job description mitigates this by making it easy for interviewers to formulate questions, understand key role requirements and assess applicants properly.
In particular, job descriptions can be helpful after senior staff have left and need to be replaced as often, senior management figures are the experts within their business field, meaning that whoever will hire the replacement likely won’t be an expert in the field they are hiring for. Having a detailed job description that outlines the purpose of a position, as well as its responsibilities, can help massively.
Informing salary expectations
Both for the employer and employee, identifying a fair remuneration offering can be challenging. At Paydata, we are accustomed to addressing these issues through our pay review services and reward strategy solutions. However, one of the best initial tools that businesses can use is job descriptions.
The purpose of a job description is to accurately explain the requirements and responsibilities of a position within an organisation. If this has been done properly, this information can be used to identify the value of a position to the business as well as what that position might get paid in the wider market. This data, alongside salary benchmarking surveys, is what businesses should utilise to make informed salary decisions.
Presenting progression paths and development opportunities
Often there is a mistaken assumption that job descriptions are all about hiring talent when, in fact, they are just as essential for retaining and developing that talent too. Whilst in recruitment settings job descriptions are primarily about finding the right person for the right position, they also highlight the room for growth and progression within the business – a key factor in boosting employee loyalty and attracting the best people out there.
Well-written job descriptions explain the business culture and mindset surrounding staff growth and sometimes, will go into additional benefits like personal development time each week which ambitious, hard-working talent will love to see.
Aiding employee evaluations
Finally, job descriptions are also extremely helpful in the context of employee evaluations and reviews. Whilst managers should already have a strong grasp of what their staff should be achieving, a detailed job description will help solidify that and enable an accurate assessment of staff performance based on their prescribed responsibilities.
With these points in mind, it’s no wonder that businesses often seek assistance in crafting the perfect job descriptions which fulfil their goals, needs and requirements. For more information or support surrounding this key business documentation, or simply for dedicated advice tailored to you, explore our Job Description Support Service or get in touch with our team of experts.