What is a Job Description?

A Job Description is a written statement of a specific job; it simply lists the main tasks a job holder has to carry out.  It generally covers the purpose, duties/responsibilities, scope, and working conditions of a job along with the job title, name or designation of the person to whom the job holder reports.

The main purpose of any job description is to outline the main duties and responsibilities that are involved in a particular job towards sourcing the right person for the job.  The process of writing a job description requires having a clear understanding of the job’s duties and responsibilities.

General information:

  •  Job Title
  • Job Location
  • Job Summary
  • Reporting to
  • Job Duties

Specific information:

  • Detailed Duties and Responsibilities
  • How job is to be performed
  • Essential functions

For the small business owner, writing a good job description that will bring in talented applicants seems daunting.  Fortunately, job descriptions can be easy to write; you just need to know the elements to include. 

The job description is a critical document for every position.  A good job description performs a number of important functions:

  • It describes the skills and competencies that are needed to perform the role;
  • It defines where the job fits within the overall company hierarchy;
  • It is used as the basis for the employment contract;
  • It is a valuable performance management tool.

5 simple steps to write a clear job description:

  1. Job title: This is a fundamental element should be self-explanatory for recruitment purposes e.g. ‘Business Registration Inspector’. An example of a bad job title for the same position would be ‘Council Enforcement Officer’.
  2. Duties: This is a list of the duties and responsibilities associated with the role.  This varies in length, but as a rule should be as short as possible.
  3. Skills and Competencies: This should be listed separately from each other.  Skills are activities the candidate can perform based on what he/she has learned in the past, or from qualifications obtained e.g. ability to give effective presentations.  Competencies are the traits or attributes you expect the candidate to display in the role e.g. strong communication skills.
  4. Relationships: This details Reporting lines and working relationships. Reporting lines show whom the candidate reports to and who reports to him/her.  Working relationships are the people and departments the candidate is required to work closely with.
  5. Salary: Salary range should be competitive with similar positions in other organisations.  This is updated from time to time in line with changing pay scales.

Other elements could include nature of job (full-time, part-time or contract), the location of job etc.  If well written, a good job description not only provides a clear picture of the position for potential candidates, it is also a useful tool for measuring performance.  Some job descriptions may need to be updated regularly based on expanded skill sets now required and the company’s current needs and long-term objectives.

Sample Job Description Template

Job Title:                    Human Resources Assistant

This role is:                Part Time or Full Time, Permanent or Temporary or Contract

Job Location:              Head Office

Job Summary:            Supports human resources processes by administering tests, scheduling appointments, conducting orientation, maintaining records and information.

Reporting to:               Human Resources Manager

Detailed Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Administers scoring tests
  • Schedules examinations by coordinating appointments
  • Welcomes new employees to the organization by conducting orientation
  • Provides payroll information by collecting time and attendance records
  • Provides secretarial support by entering, and printing information
  • Maintains employee confidence and protects operations by keeping human resource information confidential.
  • Maintains quality service by following organization standards.

Essential Skills & Qualifications:

Reporting skills, dependability, organization, confidentiality, teamwork, Microsoft office skills, communication. First degree in Humanities