There is no “ideal” format for job descriptions that will work in every situation. But most widely used formats contain the following five sections: (1) job identification; (2) job summary or purpose; (3) job duties and responsibilities; (4) accountabilities; and (5) job specifications.
The most important thing to remember is that all job descriptions within an organization should follow the same format. Those individuals responsible for writing them should receive similar instructions and follow the same guidelines so that valid comparisons can be made among jobs.
This is the part that almost everyone takes for granted. It usually looks something like this:
Immediate Supervisor (title)
The most important element in this section is the job title. A good Job title accomplishes the following objectives:
? It should tell, in a word or two, what the job consists of.
? It should indicate the job?s specific-field-of activity, its relationship to that field, and its professional standing.
? It should be as brief as possible, and if it consists of more than one word it should be in natural order (for example, “Computer Operator,” not “Operator, Computer”) so that it will be easy to use in written or spoken form.
? It should indicate skill level or supervisory level, where valid distinctions exist.
? It should be similar or identical to one of the titles the job has had in the past, so employees and supervisors won’t have to learn a completely new vocabulary every time job descriptions are written or revised.
The second section of a good job description format is known as the “job summary.” It is a brief narrative picture of the job that highlights its general characteristics. The job summary should provide enough information to differentiate the major functions and activities of the job from those of other jobs.
Since brevity, accuracy and objectivity are primary goals in writing the job summary, it is wise to follow these three basic rules:
1. Start the job summary with an action word (verb).
2. Explain the job’s requirements; in other words, tell what is done.
3. If necessary, explain the why or how of the job ? its purpose. If it is necessary or helpful to do so, use an example.
This section is common to all job description formats. It represents a summary of the duties and responsibilities associated with the job. While it is not meant to be all-inclusive, the job duties section should encompass those duties related to major performance requirements. The information may be presented either in outline or paragraph form. Here are a few important points to remember when preparing the job duties section:
1. Use brief, to-the-point sentences or phrases.
2. Begin each sentence or phrase with an action verb.
3. Use the present tense.
4. Avoid verbs that do not specifically indicate the action involved. For example, “handles mail” might be better expressed as “sorts mail” or “distributes mail.”
Once job objectives have been made clear and responsibilities and duties have been defined, the incumbent is accountable to his or her superior for success or failure in accomplishing these objectives. The section on ?accountabilities” not only describes the end results achieved when job duties are performed satisfactorily, but also mentions specific standards for measuring performance. It is therefore particularly useful when preparing for performance appraisal.
Job specifications describe the specific job requirements in terms of “compensable factors.” This factor-by-factor breakdown of the job also gives enough supporting data to select a particular level or degree for each factor. During job evaluation, a point score is assigned and a wage rate or salary level is set accordingly.
Because the job specification is used chiefly as the basis for rating jobs in the job evaluation process, the factors selected depend upon what the company has designated as “compensable factors” for all the jobs in the organization. Most fall under the four broad headings of skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions. Skills for example, might be broken down into the education, experience, initiative, and ingenuity required for the job. Effort might be subdivided into the physical and mental effort, required.