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How to Write a Simple Job Description.
By Philip Lye
Sunday, 15th January 2006
 
When you employ someone you need to provide them with guidance and instruction. Your employee without a job description is like a ship in a storm ‘going nowhere'. You must give your employees clear instructions or be prepared for them to do whatever they wish.

  • So what do you do and how do you do it?
  • How do you ensure your employees are doing what you want?
A job description is your answer! The Job Description A job is a collection of tasks and responsibilities that an employee is responsible for in order to fulfill your business expectations of the position.

Typically Job Descriptions will include to whom the position reports to, specifications such as the key responsibilities, qualifications and experience required by the incumbent to undertake the position, and sometimes includes the salary range for the position.

Sadly, many job descriptions are not well written! Common errors include not wording a job description in such a way that the employee's performance can be measured and leaving out key flexibility clauses that can help your business. It is not uncommon for an employer to write a position description, hire the employee and then have the employee refuse to do the banking because banking was not incorporated into their job description. Flexibility is the key!

In cases where a dispute has gone legal the employee has a good chance of winning. It's all in the documentation. Take steps to protect your business.

What Should I Include in a Job Description?

Purpose of the Position

The purpose of the position summarises the key reasons the position exists within your business and a short paraphrase of duties the incumbent is required to understand and take responsibility for.

Position Reports To

Having clear professional boundaries is an important part of your business. Your employees must understand who they report to and what they are accountable for.

Key Responsibilities

The key responsibilities section of your job description should give clear and unambiguous detail of the main tasks that your employee is accountable and responsible for. It should include the macro items. On some occasions employers include the micro detail as well.

Core Skills

The core skills section of a job description are those minimum skills and experience that the incumbent will need to perform the job in a professional and responsible manner for your business. As such, you need to take particular notice when interviewing a perspective employee in ensuring they really do have these qualities. Don't take it on face value!

Research has discovered that up to 35% of qualifications, memberships and experience in resumes are false. This includes Masters and PhD degrees.

Occupational Health and Safety

Occupational health and safety is a big-ticket item of the industrial agenda today and affects your business. The majority of job descriptions do not contain reference to the employer and employee working within the framework of health and safety and this poses a risk to your business. By including this clause in your job description and having mandatory induction and training you are able to demonstrate your business commitment to health and safety.

Sign Off

Finally we recommend in every instance that a job description have an employee and employer sign off. This demonstrates that the employee has the core skills, experience, and safety awareness to carry out key responsibilities to your business and that you the employer has taken the time to discuss their role with them.

Philip Lye is Director of Biz Momentum Pty Ltd. He works with small to medium businesses to help them cut through the maze of people matters. Clients get specific actionable strategies to protect their business interests. For more information on Philip, visit www.biz-momentum.com and subscribe to his free monthly e-zine.

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