Federalrequires HR professionals to do a lot of different things. Writing job descriptions is not one of them.
Because this arduous task is optional, many organizations skip right over it. That’s not wise. There are many practical and legal reasons to draft (and update) job descriptions for each position:
Reason 1: They help you defend against discrimination claims. If an applicant says you rejected him because of his race or gender, you can show a court you rejected him because he didn’t meet all the qualifications.
Note: You may be lucky enough to have a situation where multiple applicants meet the minimum qualifications for the job. So how do you break the tie? It is perfectly legal to base the decision on unwritten criteria, even a gut feeling. But it’s better to base the decision on criteria that’s already listed in the job description (which may not have been listed in the job ad).
Reason 2: They help determine “essential functions” for ADA purposes. Employees can file ADA lawsuits only if they can prove they’re legally disabled and can still perform the “essential functions” of the job. If those “essential” duties aren’t detailed in a job description, they’re left open to a court’s random interpretation.
To identify essential functions, look at the purpose of the job, the frequency of each function and the consequences if that function isn’t performed. The job description should also include the nonessential and less-frequent job duties and functions. Four key categories to include:
- Physical skills (e.g., standing, walking, lifting, bending)
- Learned skills (e.g., equipment proficiency, industry experience)
- Job duties (e.g., travel, hours, shifts)
- Behavioral skills (e.g., communication, , time )
Reason 3: They help you classify employees as exempt or nonexempt. Exemption from theof the Fair Labor Standards Act ( ) are not determined by job titles like “manager.” The key is actual duties.
The job description must match the reality of the job, not what management thinks the job entails or the lofty standards management would like it to entail. Requiring a master’s degree when a high school diploma will do may unfairly exclude applicants and lead to discrimination claims.
Giving managers the duties of hiring and firing employees on paper, but without giving them actual decision-making power, could qualify them for overtime pay as a nonexempt employee under the FLSA.
Most common traps
Here are the common traps to avoid when writing job descriptions.
- Describing the employee instead of the job. That’s easy to do because an employee—particularly a good one—will often leave a personal stamp on the position. If you describe a position in terms of how its previous occupant performed it, you will find yourself looking for a clone of the ex-jobholder.
- Using imprecise language. Language should be direct and clear. Sentences should be short and simple. Language should emphasize the skills and purposes of the current job. Begin with action verbs in the present tense, such as supervise, inspect, produce, organize, motivate, educate, administer, compose, analyze and repair. Avoid gender-based language, such as “salesman.”
- Not being specific enough. Briefly, state exactly what you want the applicant to do. Incorrect: “Quality control inspectors should inspect finished products.” Correct: “Inspect nuts emerging from production process for burrs. Place nuts with visible burrs in scrap box.”
Like what you've read? ...Republish it and share great business tips!
Attention: Readers, Publishers, Editors, Bloggers, Media, Webmasters and more...
We believe great content should be read and passed around. After all, knowledge IS power. And good business can become great with the right information at their fingertips. If you'd like to share any of the insightful articles on BusinessManagementDaily.com, you may republish or syndicate it without charge.
The only thing we ask is that you keep the article exactly as it was written and formatted. You also need to include an attribution statement and link to the article.
" This information is proudly provided by Business Management Daily.com: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/34383/job-descriptions-why-you-need-em-how-to-write-em "
- HR pros: Do you know what your supervisors are saying?
- 13 applicants you don't want to hire (plus 7 tips for decoding resumes)
- Give HR the authority to investigate, impose discipline
- New laws for a new year: Illinois employers face new credit check, wage payment requirements
- Terminating for attendance? Don't make FMLA a factor