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March 10, 2009


A job description is a written statement that describes the main objective of a job, its essential and nonessential functions, job qualifications, and other information on the job.

A job description may describe duties, skills, effort, responsibilities of the job, environmental and working conditions specific to the job, as well as the education and experience required to perform the job. It also may include information on tools and equipment used and relationships with other jobs.

Thirty people may hold the same job and, therefore, use the same job description. It is important to remember that a job description describes the job - not the person or persons holding that job.

Why describe jobs? Job descriptions clarify who is responsible for what within the company. Because they help define relationships among individuals and among departments, they can be used to settle grievances, minimize conflicts, and improve communications. Complete and accurate job descriptions can also help determine which positions to eliminate when workforce reductions become necessary as well as identify which positions are suitable for "outsourcing," telecommuting, or part-time or temporary hiring.

In addition, descriptions help incumbents understand the responsibilities of their positions. Besides giving them a relative sense of the importance of their work, it gives them a sense of where their jobs fit into the company as a whole.

And in the area of compensation, job descriptions are indispensable. They provide the only genuinely reliable and defensible foundation for job evaluation, as well as a basis for comparison with published wage and salary data and the framework for an equitable wage and salary structure.

Read another chapter in Job Descriptions.


From the HRnext Library:

  • Sample Job Descriptions
  • ADA (Disability)
  • Compensation
    • Job Analysis
    • Job Evaluation
    • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
    • Exempt/Non-exempt
  • Safety/OSHA
  • Staffing and Recruiting

Department of Labor:

  • Home page
  • Dictionary of Occupational Titles

w 5-98 (kf 1-02) Also posted under Staffing and Recruiting


Filed Under: Workplace Issues