By: Helios on April 14th, 2016

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How to Fall in Love with Job Descriptions…Forever

Communication | Total Rewards | Risk Management | Best Practices | Talent Acquisition

Over the course of my career and consulting with clients, it is not very often I come across professionals that actually like job descriptions. In fact the mere mention of job description development makes most Human Resource professionals cringe and find reason to change the subject. I, on the other hand, get excited during engagements where clients are seeking our expertise on job description development and documentation. Knowing that my services will have an immediate and positive impact on business operations by simply documenting the company’s jobs provides me with a great deal of satisfaction. While I do not expect everyone to share in my love for job documentation, I do have some good reasons to consider liking them a tad bit more than you currently do.

Why Job Descriptions Are Best for Business

  1. Recruiting Process

When most professionals think of the talent acquisition or new hire process, their minds immediately shift to a Recruiter sourcing various job sites focused on finding the hiring manager’s dream candidate. However the success of this process hinges on a few pieces of paper. How much time have you spent interviewing unqualified candidates?  And how much does it cost your company to manage people who were hired into a position they were not a fit for? Having a well-defined role and job description can mean the difference between a streamlined talent acquisition process that helps Recruiters identify talent in an effective and expedient manner, or a painful process that can be frustrating for the Recruiter, Hiring Manager and the candidate. When an organization is seeking talent and posts job ads on various social media outlets and career sites, it is imperative the jobs ads are well written, an accurate depiction of the role and specifies the minimum requirements. Not having this information clearly defined can lead to Recruiters unnecessarily sorting through resumes and extending the candidate review process, which in rare instances result in unqualified candidates making it to the interview stage. Job descriptions also come in handy during the interview phase of the talent acquisition process. Having defined and well written job descriptions enables Recruiters and Hiring Managers to create job relevant interview questions and content to ensure they hire the right candidate for the role.

  1. Promotional and Career Pathing Process

Now that my Recruiter friends can begin sharing in my love for job descriptions, it is now time to convince my professional friends who manage workforce development, succession planning and human capital of the benefits of job documentation. Over the course of the last six months, I continuously hear organizations extol the virtues of having defined career paths in an effort to retain talent. In order for such innovative programs to exist within an organization, job descriptions must be at the forefront of this initiative. Until an organization develops and documents its jobs, creating job families that are comprised of similar and progressive roles will be next to impossible. This is an opportunity for organizations to be proactive and define and organize its roles in a manner that fosters upward mobility within the organization….before employees come knocking on your door demanding to know about their promotional opportunities and options.

Job descriptions also serve as excellent checkpoints when managers are looking to promote talent. HR professionals should always advise their clients to review the employee’s current and new job description to ensure role scope and responsibility scale with the level jump, and confirm that they will be performing duties similar to their peers at the same level across the company.

  1. Performance Management and Corrective Actions

When HR professionals have to deal with employees with performance related issues, job descriptions are actually one of the softest places they can land. I am sure any Employee Relations professional will tell you how challenging this process can be, and the savvy required to create positive outcomes for all parties involved. When jobs are properly detailed and employees are not performing up to standards, it is very easy for a manager to identify gaps. I am certain every organization has, is, or will have to deal with employees with performance related issues. Having job descriptions means the difference between having an objective and straight forward conversation with the employee that should result in course correcting actions; or managing through a never ending process that eats up time, yields bad feelings and rarely results in all parties being satisfied.

  1. Benchmarking

Based on what I shared above, my fellow HR, Talent Acquisition, OD and Employee Relations professionals should now be seeing why job descriptions are wonderful and useful workforce management tools; and now it is time for Compensation to get excited about role documentation. If an organization is seeking to have a market based compensation structure, job descriptions must be in place in order to kick off the benchmarking process. When roles are clearly defined and include job specific information such as core job duties, scope, the competencies necessary for success and minimum qualifications, locating market matches is much simpler. Having a market based compensation structure drives for value and should be the cornerstone of any HR practice, and job descriptions serve as a fundamental tool in making this a reality.

For Compensation professionals that work in organizations that are in emerging markets and industries, there might come a time when hybrid roles need to be created in order to move the business forward. I cannot tell you how many times I have designed new unique roles for an organization just by taking segments of different jobs that were already defined and documented. This is another example of how job descriptions allow HR to react to business needs in a simple and nimble fashion.

  1. Enables HR Professionals to be Change Agents and Solutionists

Last, and certainly not least, job descriptions assist HR Professionals in being company solutionists within their respective organizations. When you can put your hands on all of your job descriptions, you are instantly empowered with knowing what everyone in the organization does, or is supposed to be doing. Now I understand it might take some time in order to learn every single job within your organization, and eventually you will get there, and when you arrive you can drive for change and solve problems in a very pragmatic and uncomplicated manner. Business leaders and employees alike will recognize your value when you can triage and address issues at the snap of your fingers just by simply directing people where to go to get their questions answered or resolved…..all because of a few pieces of paper.

Job documentation is never an easy or fun task; however when you take the time necessary to accurately document your organization’s job, or you hire a professional to take on this laborious task, you will see immediate results that impact routine business processes, drive for employee mobility and systemic organizational problems that never seem to dissipate will get addressed. I hope now you see why I get starry-eyed whenever I lay my eyes on well written job description. There’s just so much to love!