Common Job Description Mistakes
By Michael Pires
to have a job description for each position. It is a best practice to have a job description for each
position within your company. Employers should provide new hires with a copy
of their job description at the time of hire. Employees should also receive
an updated job description if their duties or job titles change.
2. Using a job description solely when hiring. While the need for a written job description is most evident during the recruitment process (where a detailed description of what that candidate will be expected to do and what skills that candidate must possess is critical), it is important to remember that the job description transcends the hiring process. Job descriptions can be used throughout the employment lifecycle, including but not limited to:
o Assessing employeesÕ performance
o Developing compensation plans and making compensation decisions
o Classifying employees as exempt or non-exempt
o Identifying training and development needs
job descriptions with only employee input. While existing employees can provide input on duties and
responsibilities, managers and/or human resources personnel should also be
involved in drafting job descriptions. Employees with varying perspectives
should collaborate to analyze the position and determine the skills,
abilities, qualifications, and competencies required to successfully perform
desired skills as required skills.
It may be the case that the employer "desires" that candidates
possess a certain qualification (for example, a masterÕs degree), but it is
not a "must have" for the job. If that is the case, it is a best
practice to clearly describe the minimally required skills, and characterize
the preferred skills as just that—"preferred" but not
5. Excluding essential functions. Essential functions are the job duties that must be performed by the employee. Generally, essential functions include regular day-to-day tasks as well as duties that occur at irregular intervals but that are of a recurring and essential nature. Detailing the essential functions of a job can help employers make determinations regarding reasonable accommodations should the need arise. Generally, employers are required to make a reasonable accommodation so that an otherwise qualified individual with a disability can successfully perform the essential job duties.
6. Failing to include other important information. In addition to the essential job functions, a job description should include:
7. Developing inconsistent job descriptions. Job descriptions should be consistent and uniform in their format for all positions throughout the company. Unfortunately, many employers fail to establish and maintain a common structure. This lack of uniformity can cause confusion (for managers and employees) and may result in inconsistency when making employment decisions.
8. Failing to retain previous versions of job descriptions. Another common mistake is destroying or otherwise failing to retain prior versions of a job description. It is always a best practice for employers to maintain previous versions of job descriptions, especially for purposes of defending employment decisions that were made based on the duties, skills, and qualifications of the position at that time.
Michael Pires is the VP, HR Solutions at ADP Small Business Services Division. He is responsible for leading the strategy and implementation around the continued growth of the HR411 business and expansion of the entire HR product portfolio. Michael can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org
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