Writing an Effective Job Description | Human Resources (2023)

Writing an Effective Job Description | Human Resources (1)

On this page:

  • Getting Started
  • Job Description Components
  • Hints for Writing Job Descriptions

Getting Started

The job description should accurately reflect the duties and responsibilities of the position. When well-written, it produces a realistic picture of a job and answers the question, “What does the person in this role actually do?”

A job description not only describes the position’s responsibilities, it sets the foundation for recruiting, developing, and retaining talent and also sets the stage for optimum work performance by clarifying responsibilities, expected results, and evaluation of performance. It is also an important component to maintaining an equitable compensation system and ensuring legal compliance. The document should be revisited and updated in line with the annual performance evaluation cycle.

(Video) How to Write a Good Job Description. Human Resources. 😊 #PodcastRubyKSingh

The job description contains sufficient information to describe major responsibilities and essential functions as they exist today. They provide the information necessary to classify the position, not the person; thus they are “incumbent neutral” and not based on any specific quality of an incumbent (such as knowledge, skills, abilities, performance, dedication, loyalty, years of service, or degree). The document should not include every detail of how and what work is performed so that it remains useful even when minor changes occur. Job descriptions can be written as a joint effort between supervisor and employee, but the supervisor must approve.

Job Description Components

A job description contains the following components: job title, job purpose, job duties and responsibilities, required qualifications, preferred qualifications, and working conditions.

Job Title

The Job Title is a brief description (1-4 words) of the job which reflects the content, purpose, and scope of the job and is consistent with other job titles of similar roles within Wright State University (University).

Examples include Archivist, Associate Director Disability Services, Associate Registrar, Director Student Health Services, Facilities Planner, Grants Accountant, Budget Analyst, Instructional Designer, Manager Desktop Services, and Manager Custodial Services.

Job Purpose

The Job Purpose provides a high-level overview of the role, level, and scope of responsibility consisting of three or four sentences providing a basic understanding, the “bird’s eye view” of the role. A concise summary of “why the job exists?”

Job Duties and Responsibilities

This section contains a description of the duties and responsibilities assigned to the job; also referred to as the essential functions. They describe the fundamental nature of the job which occupies a large proportion of the employee’s time. Some items to consider:

(Video) HR Basics: Writing Job Descriptions

  • Include explanatory phrases which tell why, how, where, or how often the tasks and duties are performed.
  • Focus on the outcome of tasks.
  • Reference areas of decision-making, where one will influence or impact.
  • Identify areas of direct or indirect accountabilities.
  • Describe the level and type of budgetary or financial responsibilities.
  • Describe the nature of contact, the people contacted, and the extent to which the incumbent will interact with others within and outside of the University.
  • List job duties that reflect the position requirements and ensure they are not based upon the capabilities of any one individual.

If applicable, also address the type of supervisory responsibility that is expected from this role. Detail the extent of the job’s authority to hire, discipline, terminate, assign work, train, and evaluate the performance of subordinates. This can be either a separate job duty or noted in other job duties as appropriate. The following lists various levels of supervision:

  • Provide direction to other individuals.
  • Supervises, hires, trains, provides work direction, and problem-solving assistance for student workers. Also oversees the daily operations of other staff.
  • Supervises staff, including hiring, scheduling, and assigning work, reviewing performance, and recommends salary increases, promotions, transfers, demotions, or terminations.
  • Manages others through subordinate supervisors.

The job duties should be listed in accordance with their importance and/or frequency in which they are performed. They are typically presented in a bulleted or numbered format, consisting of approximately 4–7 separate duties, with each one assigned a “percent of the time” (adding to 100%) which reflects the estimated time an employee will spend over a year. Duties that require less than 5 percent of the time should be combined with other duties or removed from the job description. The following table will assist you in estimating the percent of time:

5%2 hours2 ½ weeks
10%4 hours5 weeks
15%6 hours1 ½ month
20%8 hours2 ½ months
25%10 hours3 months

Required Qualifications

This section lists the required level of job knowledge (such as education, experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities) required to do the job. This section focuses on the “minimum” level of qualifications for an individual to be productive and successful in this role.

NOTE: For classified jobs, the required qualifications will be identical to those listed on the job specification.


Identify the educational qualifications that an employee must possess to satisfactorily perform the job duties and responsibilities. State the educational qualifications in terms of areas of study and/or type of degree or concentration that would provide the knowledge required for entry into this position.


Identify the minimum number of full-time experience required in terms of years and the type of work experience that an employee needs to be qualified for the job. Should internships, undergraduate work experience, and graduate assistantships be accepted levels of experience; this will need to be specifically stated.

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Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

In stating the required knowledge, include the level or depth of knowledge required for entry into the position. The following definitions should be helpful:

  • Working knowledge: sufficient familiarity with the subject to know basic principles and terminology and to understand and solve simple problems.
  • General knowledge: sufficient knowledge of a field to perform most work in normal situations. The work calls for comprehension of standard situations and includes knowledge of most of the significant aspects of the subject.
  • Thorough knowledge: advanced knowledge of the subject matter. The work calls for sufficient comprehension of the subject area to solve unusual as well as common work problems, to be able to advise on technical matters and to serve as a resource on the subject for others in the organization.
  • Comprehensive knowledge: requires complete mastery and understanding of the subject. This term should be used sparingly and only for unusually exacting or responsible positions required to originate hypotheses, concepts, or approaches.

List specific skills and/or abilities required for the incumbent to be successful in this role; including the designation of any required licenses or certifications. Some considerations are analytical, budget exposure, communication internal or external, computer, creative thinking, customer service, decision-making, diversity, logical thinking, multi-tasking, negotiation, problem-solving, project management, supervision, teamwork, etc.

Preferred Qualifications

An expanded listing of the Required Qualifications can be used to further determine a person’s ability to be productive and successful in this job. These Preferred Qualifications are “nice to have” but are not essential to carrying out the day-to-day functions of the job. If included, the Preferred Qualifications can focus on any or all of the following: education, experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities.

NOTE: For classified jobs, the University does not list preferred qualifications.

Working Conditions

Identify the working conditions and physical demands that relate directly to the essential job duties and responsibilities to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Describe the type, intensity (how much), frequency (how often), and duration (how long) of physical or mental capabilities required. Consider the following:

  • Environment, such as an office or outdoors.
  • Exposures encountered, such as hazardous materials, loud noise, or extreme heat/cold.
  • Essential physical requirements, such as climbing, standing, stooping, or typing.
  • Physical effort/lifting, such as sedentary - up to 10 pounds; light - up to 20 pounds; medium - up to 50 pounds; heavy - over 50 pounds.
  • Indicate if required to work weekends, nights, or be on-call as a regular part of the job.
  • Travel requirements.
  • Emergency staff designations.

Hints for Writing Job Descriptions

Job descriptions should be prepared in a manner that all components are accurately stated to create a clear understanding of the role. Here are some hints to assist you in the process:

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  • Write in a concise, direct style.
  • Always use the simpler word rather than the complicated one; keeping sentence structure as simple as possible. It will cut verbiage, shorten your description, and enhance understanding.
  • Use descriptive action verbs in the present tense (for example: writes, operates, or performs).
  • Avoid abbreviations and acronyms. Other people reading the position description may not be familiar with them. If abbreviations and acronyms are necessary, define them the first time you use them.
  • Don't use ambiguous terms. If you use terms such as “assists, handles, and performs,” describe “how” the position assists, handles, or performs. Using the word “by” and then detailing the processes, tasks, or operations performed will usually clarify the ambiguity.
  • Avoid gender-specific language, such as, “He manages,” “She is responsible for.”
  • Focus on essential activities; omit trivial duties and occasional tasks.
  • Avoid references to other employee’s names, instead, refer to the job title or department.
  • Only include assigned duties today. Do not include potential future duties and eliminate any duties no longer required.
(Video) Writing A Job Description Best Practices - Human Resources #shorts


What are the 5 components of job description? ›

The key elements of a job description include a clear title, a summary, professional and education requirements, skills and working conditions. Employers may also mention a salary range and any perks offered by the company to reward or motivate employees.

What is job description in HRM with example? ›

Job description is a broad, general, and written statement of a specific job, based on the findings of a job analysis. It generally includes duties, purpose, responsibilities, scope, and working conditions of a job along with the job's title, and the name or designation of the person to whom the employee reports.

What are the 5 key roles of an HR department? ›

Human Resources manages 5 main duties: talent management, compensation and employee benefits, training and development, compliance, and workplace safety. An HR department can help provide organizational structure and the ability to meet business needs by effectively managing the employee lifecycle.

What are the 7 core HR functions? ›

Recruitment & selection, performance management, learning & development, succession planning, compensation and benefits, Human Resources Information Systems, and HR data and analytics are considered cornerstones of effective HRM.

What is the most important part of a job description? ›

Here are the most critical components of a good job description. Heading information. This should include job title, pay grade or range, reporting relationship (by position, not individual), hours or shifts, and the likelihood of overtime or weekend work.

How do you write a job description example? ›

Your job description should be descriptive enough that candidates understand if they are qualified for your open role. It should include the specific type of work, how that work will be completed, the skills required for the work, and the purpose of the work as it relates to the organization's mission and goals.

What should a job description include? ›

A job description summarises the essential responsibilities, activities, qualifications and skills for a role. Also known as a JD, this document describes the type of work performed. A job description should include important company details — company mission, culture and any benefits it provides to employees.

What are the 3 major responsibilities of HR departments? ›

What are the three major roles of human resources management? Running payroll, writing job descriptions, creating workplace policies and procuring benefits packages are typical of HR administration.

Why is job description important in HR? ›

Through job descriptions, employees understand what's expected of them, allowing them to work more effectively. Additionally, it provides a structure to ensure that the duties are being handled by the employee, which establishes objective criteria by which the employer can measure the employee's performance.

What are the 8 functions of HR? ›

Human Resources Functions: 8 Areas to Focus on
  • Recruitment and selection. It takes time and planning to attract and recruit highly talented employees. ...
  • Training and Development. ...
  • Company Brand and Culture. ...
  • Safety and Health. ...
  • Performance Management. ...
  • Succession Planning. ...
  • Compensation and Benefits. ...
  • Compliance and Legal.
Jul 16, 2019

What is the most important role in HR? ›

Paying Employees and Negotiating Benefits

One of HR's primary roles is managing payment and benefits for an organization's staff. Proper management of compensation, time off, and insurance is what keeps employee satisfaction high.

What is 3 C's in HRM? ›

Three Cs to Improve Employee Retention: Compensation, Career Path, and Culture.

What are the Don'ts when creating job description? ›

Don't use jargon, acronyms, or other misleading terms. Don't group incompatible job functions. Don't list unreasonable expectations or overstate the needs of the position. Doing this may provide you an overqualified candidate, but one who is bored and likely to leave at first opportunity.

What are some of the qualities of a well constructed job description? ›

These should include expectations for availability such as overtime, nights, weekends, holidays, etc.; flexibility in scheduling regarding off days; restrictions on vacation time; policies and accountabilities for tardiness and absenteeism; and expected employee behaviors regarding interaction with peers, customers, ...

What are the 3 things that are most important to you in a job describe them with full sentences not just single words? ›

Other Potential Answers For Things That Are Most Important to You in a Job
  • Job is stimulating & challenging.
  • Able to learn new things and develop your skill set.
  • Achieve measurable results.
  • Feel valued and a core part of the team.
  • Opportunities to grow and progress within the company.

How do you write a 2022 job description? ›

Job Description Writing Guide - A Set Of Best Practices
  1. 'Title & Summary' - Outline the job title, where it will be based and sell it.
  2. 'Who We Are' - Tell them about your organisation.
  3. 'The Role' - Tell them what the main purpose of the role is.
  4. 'Their Benefits' - Describe the benefits they will receive.

Is there a standard format for writing a job description? ›

Answer and Explanation: True. Although structuring a job description does not follow a standard format, most of them contain particular sections that indicate the critical activities, skills, qualifications, and responsibilities inherent for a role.

What are the six core HR processes? ›

The six main function of HR are recruitment, workplace safety, employee relations, compensation planning, labor law compliance and training.

What is HR Executive job description? ›

As an HR Executive, you will perform necessary administrative tasks in the Human Resources department, such as staff management, hiring processes, social welfare & archiving of HR records. You will also be responsible for updating HR policies and forecasting recruitment needs for the company.

What are the 3 most critical factors in developing an effective HR organization? ›

Top Critical HR Success Factors
  • Culture. At the heart of every organization is its culture—the attitudes and behaviors defining how things get done. ...
  • Talent Acquisition. ...
  • Workforce Planning. ...
  • Compensation. ...
  • Benefits and Employee Wellness. ...
  • Training. ...
  • Leadership Development. ...
  • Employee Engagement.
Sep 15, 2020

What are the 5 benefits of job description? ›

provides you with an essential reference tool in issues of disputes with your employees. provides you with a key point of reference for disciplinary issues. clarifies your expectations of your employees. provides you with a basis of measuring job performance and carrying our performance reviews.

Why are accurate job descriptions so important? ›

A job description gives an employee a clear and concise guide for job performance. Employees know exactly what their manager expects from them, which allows them to improve their skills and increase productivity.

How do you write a good job description example? ›

Job description layout checklist:

Make the job titles clear, direct, and specific. Engage potential applicants with an exciting company description example. Include more than one example of duties and responsibilities. Provide past job experience examples that would be helpful in the position.

How can I make my job description more attractive? ›

6 Ways to Tweak Your Job Description to Attract Better Talent
  1. Include the right keywords. ...
  2. Attract the right type of employee. ...
  3. Stand out from the crowd. ...
  4. Communicate company culture and key values. ...
  5. Make it pleasant to read. ...
  6. Write with mobile in mind.
Dec 19, 2022

What is the best job description format? ›

What is the best job description format? The best format depends entirely on the nature of the job posting itself, but in general, a good job description starts with the job title, a quick description, and then moves on to expected experience/qualifications, required software tools, and daily responsibilities.


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