Job descriptions are often treated as little more than business formalities: bureaucratic documents that have to be created, but once they are they usually end up gathering dust inside a filing cabinet or living in purgatory on the company server.
This is unfortunate not only for legal reasons, but also because keeping up-to-date job descriptions offers companies an opportunity to improve productivity and increase retention and morale.
To give you a little incentive to blow the dust off those outdated job descriptions, we’d like to share a few insights from Margie Mader-Clark’s Job Description Handbook.
5 Reasons to Rescue Your Job Descriptions from Filing Cabinet Purgatory
The job description is the basis of your search for a new hire
Going into an interview without a clear job description is like packing for a trip abroad without putting together a list of things to bring. In both cases, you’re bound to forget something.
It’s amazing how much clarity we can bring to our ideas when we write them down. You may think you know what a job entails, but chances are that the position you’re looking to fill has evolved over the years. An up-to-date job description will ensure that candidates know what the position requires and help you weed out unqualified applicants.
The job description can be modified and used to market your job online
We’ll keep this short and sweet: If you have an updated job description, you won’t have to start from scratch every time you post a job online. This will save you time in the long run.
You can use the job description as an interview tool
You may have a set interview questions you’re in the habit of using, but a detailed and clearly- written job description should ultimately be your interview roadmap.
We’ve met interviewers who insist questions like, “If you were a bicycle, which part would you be?” or “If you were a cocktail, what kind would you be?” help them determine which candidates can think on their feet and problem solve. We beg to differ. Questions like this are cute, but they have little to do with whether or not a candidate is qualified. Stick to your job description and use it to frame your interview questions.
New employees can use the job description to get an immediate understanding of expectations
An employee who only has vague notions of what you and the company expect is in a precarious and uncomfortable situation. Well-written job descriptions tell new employees exactly what their job is—which means they can get to work right away. They also help eliminate the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that often accompany the decision to accept a new job.
Here’s something else to consider: Once your employee is on board, you can use the same job description you used in the hiring process to measure how an employee is doing against those expectations. If necessary, you can then help an employee get back on track simply by referring to the job description.
Job descriptions can limit your company’s legal exposure
If you know exactly what you’re looking for, you will be much less likely to base your hiring decisions on factors that aren’t job related. Your interview questions will be relevant only to the job, and your hiring choices will be based on the person’s qualifications and ability to do the job, not on his or her personal characteristics or beliefs, and your personal likes and dislikes.