A well-written job description enables prospective employees to understand the responsibilities, requirements and scope of a position. It’s a vital resource in ensuring that you hire well the first time around, avoiding costly recruiting mistakes that can take a great deal of time – and dollars – to rectify.

Your successful job description is key to effectively reviewing employee performance, developing recruitment advertising and ensuring your compensation is competitive.

The content of a job description helps ensure compliance with non-discrimination laws and mitigate risk. Historically, job descriptions are among the most widely used pieces of evidence in employment claims.

The best job descriptions clearly define tasks to be performed and expected behaviors to be demonstrated by an employee. They provide the necessary information that enables a team member to quickly acclimate to their new work environment.

Be sure your job descriptions include these key elements:

Job Title and Classification

Along with the position title and indication whether the job is exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act, provide a concise overview including:

  • Work site location.
  • Pay range.
  • Benefits information.
  • Bonuses and incentives.
  • Hours, including availability in terms of overtime, weekends and holidays.
  • Travel requirements.
  • Expected behavior including interaction with peers, customers, vendors and managers.
  • Any unusual environmental or working conditions.

Company Description

Work with your marketing department to craft copy showcasing your company’s history, achievements and accomplishments. Your goal is to sell candidates on joining your team.

 Responsibilities and Tasks

Clearly delineate job functions as they relate to the performance of an employee’s duties. Identify up to 10 tasks and briefly describe each one. Organize them in a logical manner and begin each description with an action verb such as “develop, manage, coordinate, organize” or “create.”


  • Technical aspects of the position.
  • Supervisory or management responsibilities.
  • Education and experience requirements.
  • Back-up functions; for instance: “other responsibilities as deemed necessary by circumstances.”

Job-Related Skills

Describe the nature and level of any specialized skills demanded by the job, such as:

  • Technical abilities.
  • Physical requirements.
  • Written, verbal, language and related communication skills.
  • Hardware, software and other computer competencies.

Relationships and Scope of Authority

Clarify the reporting structure, as well as the level of authority the employee has over other team members, the function, and the product.

  • If group projects will be required, indicate this and give an example or two.
  • Outline areas where duties may overlap and who is ultimately responsible for the finished product.

Key Performance Indicators

Identify approximately three key performance indicators used to measure success in the position. Since job descriptions may be shared with non-employees, insert the measures, but not the actual goals. This give prospective employees a sense of what’s important and how the position contributes to the success of your business.

Final Pointers

  • Best practice indicates that all job descriptions within an organization follow a standard format and include “written by and date” and “approved by and date” signature information. Ask employees to sign these documents. Then, retain them in personnel files.
  • Make job descriptions available to candidates early on in the hiring process. This gives them ample time to formulate questions they may want to ask during interviews.
  • When you create or revise a job description, pass it by your corporate counsel or legal firm for review.

Building and managing a successful team starts with a successful job description – a tool that you’ll pick up and use throughout an employee’s tenure with your company.

The executive search and management consultants at BrainWorks can partner with you as you achieve recruitment and retention success. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.

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