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[Author: Lesley Sifers, Tax Favored Benefits, Inc., 2012; R-2013 | Keywords: Human Resources, Recruiting, Job Description]

In the August issue, I provided you with tips on how to collect and organize information about the positions in your company. Now, it is time to actually begin writing your job descriptions. Job descriptions should be uniform in appearance and organization and for that you will need a FORM, which is relatively easy to create. Basic elements of a job description include the following:


Here is where you will have basic information: job title, classification (Exempt/ Non-Exempt), title of position to which the incumbent reports, titles of positions supervised by the incumbent. For multi-location dealerships, include the location because the same job title may have different functions at some locations. For example, an office manager in Bigville may supervise accounting personnel while an office manager in Smallville may BE the accounting person.

Essential Functions

These responsibilities and tasks are the reason a job exists. List them in order of critical importance. Think of the consequences if an incumbent does NOT do these things. Essential functions are not always things that are done every day or take a lot of time. An accounting clerk may spend only a couple of hours a week on payroll and the rest of the time on invoicing and other tasks. But, processing payroll is pretty essential.

Although it’s important to interview incumbent job holders, it’s a mistake to base a job description on how that person has chosen to perform the job. You must focus on how YOU want the job done and whether or not certain activities must be done by the jobholder. For example, Barry White in Bigville prepares a daily bank deposit and takes it to the bank. It may be essential for him to prepare the deposit but it may or may not be essential for him to actually take it to the bank. Lois Lane in Smallville picks up the mail every day at the post office. It’s important to get the mail but is it essential that Lois be the one to get it? The answer could be “yes” if confidentiality is important or “no” if someone else could do those errands.

Other Duties

These are tasks or responsibilities that the incumbent performs which are parts of the job. Examples might be preparing reports, researching a topic or situation, taking inventory, cleaning shop areas, sorting and stacking pallets, organizing recyclables for pick-up, attending required training. Do not include tasks that may have been performed in the past but are not routinely assigned to the jobholder. For example, five years ago work in the shop was a bit slow, so you had some of those employees assist with the annual inventory. It hasn’t happened since. So, don’t include that in the job description.

You can, however, keep your options open by including a statement such as: “This job description is not intended to state or imply that these are the only duties to be performed. Incumbent will be required to follow any other instructions or perform any other duties assigned or requested by a supervisor or manager.”

KSAs: Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
  • K= Knowledge and that can be obtained through closely related work experience as well as secondary education. If you require certain knowledge for a position, you can state, “College degree in Accounting or equivalent work experience in a related position.” Sometimes, it’s essential to have certain credentials such as certifications of completion for required training in order for a technician to perform warranty work.
  • S=Skills are things like using computers, designing/working with spreadsheets, operating certain types of equipment, accurate typing/data entry, math skills, etc.
  • A=Abilities are personal attributes. For instance, the ability to speak persuasively, to be courteous and attentive to customers, to resolve problems, to speak in public, to be accurate/detail-orientated, to work alone, to work with a group. Think of the personal qualities required for the position.
  • Special qualifications for drivers: If you have truck drivers or other employees who drive company or personal vehicles for business purposes, be sure to include a requirement that those jobholders must maintain a valid driver’s license and be insurable.
Physical Demands/Work Environment

This can be a long list, so make it a separate page of your form. The physical demands of some positions can be the same and you would only have to write this once. Don’t focus just on physical demands that require exertion such as lifting, pushing, pulling, etc. Include physical requirements such as hearing, seeing, speaking and exertion, such as using hands and fingers for tasks like typing, data entry, and assembly work.

Work Environment includes exposure to heat, cold, noise, fumes, lighting, etc. You cannot assume that an office job for example, is performed in a quiet, well-lit, climate-controlled environment. Some years ago, I was HR Director for a manufacturing company that made pressure control devices. My office was on the other side of the concrete wall of the test lab where “burst tests “were performed. It took several months to become accustomed to the loud booms. Applicants in my office often jumped out of the chair if an “explosion” occurred during the interview.

If all this seems daunting, you can probably find a consultant to undertake the project – that will be expensive if done properly. You can find pre-written job descriptions on the Internet. BUT, if you choose to use them, think “jump start.” Just because you have jobs with the same title does not mean your job has the same content. Boilerplate job descriptions should be carefully reviewed and tailored to your specific positions.

Yes, job descriptions are a headache but they are also a valuable tool. You will find them helpful in hiring, training, performance evaluation, designing light duty, ADA compliance, documenting terminations, and defending your company against unemployment claims, charges of discrimination or wrongful termination. Long list, isn’t it?