Well-developed written job descriptions are essential to the hiring process for two reasons:

  1. They assist you in clarifying the skills or traits you expect an applicant to meet
  2. They help you defend yourself in court should you be sued over your hiring decision

In preparing a job description, the first step is to ask yourself why you need someone in that position and how the employee in that position would fit into your company structure or help you reach your goals. The next step is to determine what duties you will need that person to perform.

In making the determination about the job duties, it is important to distinguish between job requirements that are absolutely necessary (known as essential functions) and those job requirements that you would prefer in an ideal world, but that you can do without or could have someone else perform.

Essential job functions must be listed separately, because when considering accommodations under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), they are the functions that the applicant must be able to perform with or without reasonable accommodation.

A common mistake employers make when preparing job descriptions is assuming that the day-to-day responsibilities of the job are adequately addressed by the job title alone. Although the job title may give you a general idea of what tasks an employee in the job might be expected to perform, the title alone does not answer questions about the details of an employee’s job responsibilities within your organization.

For example, in one organization, the HR Manager may do a little bit of everything, while in another organization, the responsibilities may be quite narrow.

Your job descriptions should provide someone who has no personal knowledge of a job with enough information to weed out unsuitable applicants and send only the best-qualified people on for further consideration.

To prepare a good job description, determine the major responsibilities and the percentage of time the employee will spend on each, and the qualifications the applicant must have to be able to perform the essential functions of the job. The job qualification standards must be:

  • Job Related
  • Consistent with business necessity

Qualifications should include: the required education, work experience, physical abilities, mental capacity, skills, licenses or certifications and other requirements such as judgment, ability to work under pressure, or interpersonal skills.


– HR Daily Advisor



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