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How to write job descriptions that are complete, accurate and legally sound

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in Hiring,Human Resources

Besides their obvious purpose of identifying work to be performed, well-written job descriptions are integral in recruiting and interviewing prospective employees, rating job performance, classifying employees as exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), meting out discipline, and making promotion and compensation decisions.

Here are the 9 steps to crafting a legal and complete job description:

Step #1: Identify A Title And Purpose

Start by selecting a job title that is self-evident, reflective of rank or worth, free of technical jargon, and, as a rule, simple and recognizable. Then, succinctly state the aim of the position. What are the particular contributions of the job toward the accomplishment of the company's overall objectives?

Step #2: Collaborate With Managers And Employees

The best sources of information for writing an accurate job description are those who perform the jobs and those who manage them. Writing job descriptions is a collaborative effort — employees and managers should be included in the process, but they should not be left to do it on their own. Use task-centered questionnaires and checklists to find out what skills, physical and mental abilities, level of education, etc., are necessary for performing the job.

You can also verify vital job skills by observing employees at work. Observation works especially well for jobs that involve manual labor.

The Job Descriptions & Interview Questions Sourcebook will help you define every job you need to fill. How? For more than 200 jobs, you'll get model job descriptions and job advertisements ... a checklist for determining exemption status ... what to ask during interviews ... and what never to ask. It's all at your fingertips with the Job Descriptions & Interview Questions Sourcebook.

Step #3: Detail Qualifications

  • List only those skills that are actually used on the job; including a laundry list of nice-to-have (as compared to need-to-have) skills may lead to discrimination woes if a lack of these skills takes a minority job applicant out of the running, for example.
  • Identify how much experience is essential, and be prepared to back up your assertion. Keep in mind that experience can be gained in a number of different ways.
  • Name must-have degrees and/or licenses.
  • Be specific. For example, instead of using "computer literate" as a necessary job qualification, name the computer applications the individual needs to know: "must be proficient with Microsoft Word and Excel; some familiarity with Microsoft Access is preferred."

Step #4: Describe The Setting

Identify the physical conditions of the work environment (e.g., hot, cold, noisy), as well as the social conditions of the job (e.g., work alone or with the public). Also, note if the use of specific equipment is required.

Step #5: Name Essential Duties

Organization and word choice are key when it comes to writing the essential functions section of a job description, so be sure to:

  • arrange duties and responsibilities sequentially by listing the more predominant duties before those of lesser importance;
  • differentiate between essential and non-essential duties, especially in light of the ADA;
  • provide detailed explanations for words with multiple meanings;
  • avoid abbreviations, technical terms, and company-specific jargon;
  • use the present tense and begin each statement with an action verb; and
  • use quantitative terms (e.g., "daily," "weekly," "monthly") where possible.
The job descriptions and sample want ads in the Job Descriptions & Interview Questions Sourcebook not only make it simple to find great candidates. They help you comply with federal law. This powerful CD also includes a guide to classifying job titles and a library of FLSA exempt/nonexempt regulations. Plus, you'll find the Exemption Analysis feature of every job description essential for making the all-important exempt vs. nonexempt decision.
Get it all here.

Step #6: Outline Performance Expectations

Identify the qualitative and quantitative expectations of each function. Added bonus: These expectations will come in handy when it's time to review an employee's performance.

Step # 7: Determine Exempt Or Non-Exempt Status

To qualify for exemption from minimum wage and overtime pay under the FLSA, employees must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week. Important: Job titles do not determine exempt status. In order for a executive, administrative, professional, computer employee, or outside sales exemption to apply, an employee's specific job duties and salary must meet certain test requirements as laid out by U.S. Department of Labor regulations.

Heads up: FLSA exemptions only apply to "white collar" employees who meet applicable salary and duties tests. Exemptions do not apply to manual laborers or other "blue collar" workers who perform work involving repetitive operations with their hands, physical skill, and energy. FLSA-covered, non-management employees in production, maintenance, construction, and similar occupations, such as carpenters, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, iron workers, craftsmen, operating engineers, longshoremen, construction workers, and laborers, are not exempt under the FLSA regulations no matter how highly paid they might be.

Step #8: Keep It Open-Ended

Contrary to what employees may think, there is nothing illegal about assigning them tasks that are not listed in their job descriptions. To prevent your managers from ever having to hear a chorus of "it's not my job," communicate to employees that the list of duties in the job description is not exhaustive.

You can keep it short and sweet and include a phrase like: "other duties assigned."

Or you can go a step further and state: "This job description in no way implies that the duties listed here are the only ones the employee can be required to perform. The employee is expected to perform other tasks as dictated by their manager or supervisor."

Step #9: Keep It Current

Review job descriptions annually to ensure they reflect any changes in the position, department, or company as a whole.

For each of 200+ job titles, the Job Descriptions & Interview Questions Sourcebook gives you: book cover
  • Model job advertisements and job descriptions to make it easier for you to be precise in your advertisements for employees so you can attract the candidates most suited to your needs – taking a lot of the work out of your work!
  • A handy checklist to help you determine exemption status for each of the 200+ jobs under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This is a simple way to prevent costly misclassifications, claims and overtime lawsuits.
  • A set of job-specific interview questions, plus a comparison chart for evaluating candidates for each job. As with the other documents, these documents are in Word, so you can easily edit or add questions as you please.
And there's even more:
  • A library of more than 350 skill-based questions, from adaptability to integrity to sales skills. (Such as: "Give an example of a time you did more than was required in your job.”) Plus special questions for recent graduates.
  • Questions not to ask, to avoid legal problems, from the obvious ("Have you ever been treated by a psychiatrist?”) to the seemingly innocent ("What kind of work does your spouse do?”).

This power-packed CD even provides Word docs you can easily customize to suit your needs.

Get It Today!

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