Q. Smart employers write and job seekers ask to see job descriptions during the employee recruitment process. Where can they find them?
A. Job descriptions are vital in the recruitment, interviewing and selection of new employees and serve as the foundation for determining what kind of workers will best fill job openings.
From a job seeker’s perspective, a good job description spells out what the job entails and gives them a good sense of whether their skills and experience are suitable for a job. If they lack a skill that’s vital in the job description, they can determine if they need more training — whether through a class, job shadowing or online learning. Looking carefully at job descriptions in a particular field can also help a job seeker see how their skills, interests and experience might square with the competition. A smart job seeker carefully compares the requirements of jobs they’re interested against their résumé and cover letter to make sure they are clearly showing the skills, experience and education required for the position.
Employers use a job description to define the purpose of a job, where the job fits into the organization’s structure, the main accountabilities and responsibilities of the job and key tasks to be performed. Well-written job descriptions help employers show workers where they fit and can be used to orient new employees, evaluate employee performance, determine what training should be provided and provide meaningful career paths within the organization.
Job descriptions are also important when disciplining employees and can be used to prove evidence that practices are fair and that the employer complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. As communication tools, job descriptions help employees and their coworkers understand where their job leaves off and the job of another employee starts. Job descriptions also help employees from other departments understand the boundaries of the person’s responsibilities.
Thanks to the Internet, finding sample job descriptions is pretty easy in this day and age. Using a search engine, just type “Job description” and the occupation. America’s Career InfoNet, created by a consortium of the state workforce agencies such as the Idaho Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Labor, offers a Job Description Writer, which is helpful in selecting what tasks and responsibilities normally go with a job and ensuring that the description uses appropriately professional and non-discriminatory language. To find the Job Description Writer, visit www.acinet.org.
Kathryn Tacke, regional economist
Kathryn.Tacke@labor.idaho.gov, 208-799-5000 ext. 3984