5 Key Elements of Useful Job Descriptions

When I mention job descriptions, what comes to mind?  Are they pieces of paper written years ago that are collecting dust or documents you refer to frequently?  In many cases, I’m guessing it’s the former.  If organizations either don’t have or don’t frequently use job descriptions, then what’s the point of having them in the first place?  Job descriptions, when written well can be powerful tools for staff development, recruiting and evaluating potential candidates.

Here are key elements of job descriptions:

1.  Job Title – “Office Administrator,” “Finance Director,” etc.

2.  Key Responsibilities –  List the tasks that are core to this role in the organization.  For example: Is this person responsible for planning all fundraising events, maintaining the offices and grounds, managing the CEO’s schedule, producing monthly financial reports, etc.?

3.  Reoccurring Tasks –  What tasks does this person perform daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and/or annually?  For a role in your Finance Office, this may include a weekly check print run.  A Programs Director might manage an event calendar and update it on the website monthly.

4.  Educational Requirements –  Does this role require a college education?  If so, what degree field(s) would be the best fit?  Are any professional certifications required such as a CPA?

5.  Core Skills –  Does this person need to be proficient in leading and directing teams?  Do they need to know how to handle complicated formulas in Microsoft Excel?  Should they have experience using a certain software program?  Do they need to be great with kids?

Considering each role and documenting the items listed above can help you identify what success looks like for each member of your staff.  If you don’t already have job descriptions, it’s worth the investment to start developing them.  The process will encourage conversations between you and your staff about expectations and you might learn that they’ve been doing more than you originally intended for their role.  It will also help when you need to hire someone new as you’re communicating the position and evaluating candidates against a single set of criteria.

How have you used job descriptions to develop and evaluate your staff or in hiring someone new?