Five Things to Ask Yourself Before Writing a Job Description

Writing a job description can be daunting at times. It is an important communication tool that is unfortunately often overlooked when management gets too busy. Yet, companies should have a job description for every position. The job descriptions should outline the functions of the position as well as the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to be successful in the role. If an employee is currently doing the work, it is helpful to have the employee write the initial draft for the description. No one knows the job better than the person in the position – in most cases. If the position is new or vacant, the direct manager of the position should create the first draft. As you write the first draft, ask yourself the following five questions:

  1. What is the strategic purpose for the position?

Ask why. Why do you need this position in the company? Then, ask yourself if all of the functions of this job help the company meet and exceed its goals. If not, why is the position required to do them? Sometimes, the functions can be combined with an existing position instead of creating a new one.

  1. Does a job description exist for this position?

If so, is it up-to-date? What changes need to be made? Pay attention to changes in technology which may adjust some of the functions for the position. Those modifications could change the level for the position as well as the number of hours needed to complete the work.  If they do not, keep reading.

  1. What are the essential functions of the position? How many hours are required to accomplish these functions?

For example, if the position is responsible for making phone calls about collections, it is important that the position includes that as a requirement. Not everyone has the same skill set and a job description will provide the potential candidates will all the information they need to determine if they will fit the job.

  1. Identify the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs).

Make sure the description captures the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required to be successful in the position.  For example, phone work often requires proficiency with interpersonal skills — so “excellent interpersonal communication skills” should be listed as a necessary skill.

  1. What department does this position belong to and who supervises this position?

If your company has traditional departments, you can often easily identify the place where the position fits best. If not, the position is usually created due to a need in the company, so it is best to figure out which department is the closest match. Then, pinpoint the best management position to direct that work. Hopefully, the management role will require competencies needed to guide the work as needed.


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