The “Write” Description

Much like the synopsis on a book’s dust jacket, a job description is intended to generate interest by providing a few critical insights into what is contained inside. Specifically, it provides clear and concise summary of the responsibilities and requirements of the job in question. Not only are job descriptions used to advertise for new employees, they are also a key component of the performance review process, as they allow the employer to compare the employee’s performance to the expectations which were set forth when they were hired.

Job descriptions typically consist of the following components: title, summary of the position, essential duties and responsibilities, qualifications, terms of employment, the title of the person to whom the employee will directly report, and any special considerations, such as working conditions or physical demands that may be out of the norm. The last piece of information is crucial in that it will be used to monitor compliance with the ADA.

It’s critical for an employer to write accurate and appropriate job descriptions. Here are some tips for ensuring that your job descriptions not only provide you with a pool of qualified candidates, but help build your company’s reputation. 

  • Be Concise – The goal is to write a useable document, not the great American novel. Avoid the temptation to ramble on needlessly. Don’t make a seemingly endless list of responsibilities, for example. Limit yourself to a manageable number of duties, typically six or eight. You will find the description much more user-friendly if you keep it short and to the point.


  • Be Specific – Don’t merely state that you need someone who is “computer literate.” Rather, state exactly what programs (Microsoft Word, Excel, QuickBooks, etc.) you need them to know. Likewise, if the person you are hiring will be responsible for administrative duties, list the specific duties you will need them to perform. Also be sure to state what level of proficiency you require. Use qualifiers like “basic,” “intermediate” and “advanced” to reflect exactly what you are seeking in a candidate or employee.


  • Be Generic – Avoid gender-based language, even if your workforce is predominantly one sex or the other. After all, how would you feel if you were a male nursing professional reading a job description that consistently refers to “she” or “her duties?” Likewise, a female construction worker might be put off by a job description that is clearly geared toward men. Far better to take the modern –some might say politically correct – route and be gender neutral. After all, you want to attract the best candidate, regardless of gender.


When appropriately written, a job description can be a powerful tool as it relates to numerous aspects of the employment relationship. Take advantage of these tips to draft the kind of job description which will give your organization a competitive edge by attracting qualified candidates, conducting effective performance reviews, and boosting your company’s reputation.

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