Monday, February 22, 2010


Overviews of the most common components are presented next.
The first part of the job description is the identification section, in which the job title, reporting relationships, department, location, and date of analysis may be given. Usually, it is advisable to note other information that is useful in tracking jobs and employees through human resource information systems (HRIS). Additional items commonly noted in the identification section are:
-Job code
-Pay grade
-Exempt/nonexempt status under Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
-EEOC Classification (from EEO-1 form)
The second part, the general summary, is a concise statement of the general responsibilities and components that make the job different from others. One HR specialist has characterized the general summary statement as follows: “In thirty words or less, describe the essence of the job.”
The third part of the typical job description lists the essential functions and duties. It contains clear, precise statements on the major tasks, duties, and responsibilities performed. Writing this section is the most time-consuming aspect of preparing job descriptions.
The next portion of the job description gives the qualifications needed to perform the job satisfactorily. The job specifications typically are stated as (1) knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), (2) education and experience, and (3) physical requirements and/or working conditions. The components of the job specifications provide information necessary to determine what accommodations might and might not be possible under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.
The final section on many job descriptions contains approval signatures by appropriate managers and a legal disclaimer. This disclaimer allows employers to change employees’ job duties or request employees to perform duties not listed, so that the job description is not viewed as a “contract” between the employer and the employee.
The ADA focused attention on the importance of well-written job descriptions.
Legal compliance requires that they accurately represent the actual jobs. Some
guidelines for preparing legally satisfactory job descriptions are noted next.
Job titles should be descriptive of job functions performed. For instance, one firm lumped all clerical jobs into four secretarial categories, even though the actual jobs were for such functions as payroll processor, marketing secretary, and receptionist. When the firm reviewed its descriptions, each job was given a function-related title. However, the jobs were grouped for pay purposes into the same pay grades as before. In summary, job titles should reflect the relative responsibilities in the organization and be linked to the pay grade system.
Most experienced job analysts have found that it is easier to write the general summary after the essential function statements have been completed. Otherwise, there is a tendency for the general summary to be too long.
The general format for an essential function statement is as follows: (1) action
verb, (2) to what applied, (3) what/how/how often. There is a real art to writing statements that are sufficiently descriptive without being overly detailed. It is important to use precise action verbs that accurately describe the employee’s tasks, duties, and responsibilities. For example, it is generally advisable to avoid the use of vague words such as maintains, handles, and processes. Compare the statement “Processes expense vouchers” to “Reviews employee expense reports, verifies expense documentation, and submits to accounting for payment.”
The second statement more clearly describes the scope and nature of the duty performed. However, it is just as important to avoid the trap of writing a motion analysis. The statement “Walks to filing cabinet, opens drawer, pulls folder out, and inserts material in correct folder” is an extreme example of a motion statement. The statement “Files correspondence and memoranda to maintain accurate customer policy records” is sufficiently descriptive without being overly detailed.
The language of the ADA has stressed that the essential function statements be
organized in the order of importance or “essentiality.” If a description has eight statements, it is likely that the last two or three duties described are less essential than the first two or three. Therefore, it is important that job duties be arranged so that the most essential (in criticality and amount of time spent) be listed first and the supportive or marginal ones listed later. Within that framework, specific functional duties should be grouped and arranged in some logical pattern. If a job requires an accounting supervisor to prepare several reports, among other functions, statements relating to the preparation of reports should be grouped together.
The miscellaneous clause mentioned earlier is typically included to assure some managerial flexibility. Some job descriptions contain sections about materials or machines used, working conditions, or special tools used. This information is often included in the specific duty statements or in comment sections. Job descriptions of executive and upper-management jobs, because of the wide range of duties and responsibilities, often are written in more general terms than descriptions of jobs at lower levels in the organization.


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