Enhancing your operations with accurate job description

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By Goke Ilesanmi

The type of employees you hire can make or mar your business. While you may be tempted to hire the first person who walks into your office, doing so can be a fatal error. A small company cannot afford to carry deadwood of staff. Therefore, start smart by taking time to figure out your staffing needs before you even begin looking for job candidates. That is, ensure you know what you are looking for in an employee before you actually start your search. You can use the following guidelines to help yourself.


Job analysis

The first of the guidelines is job analysis. Begin with understanding of the requirements of the post(s) to be filled. What kinds of personality, experience and education are needed? To determine these attributes, you need to sit down and do a job analysis covering the following areas: The mental/physical tasks involved; how the job will be done; the qualifications needed (training, knowledge, skills and personality traits), etc.

Stephen Bastien a business consultant, leadership and employee management expert and author of Yes, One Person Can Make a Difference, says if you are having trouble, one good way to get information for a job analysis is to talk to employees and supervisors in other companies that have similar positions.


Job description and specification

    Apart from job analysis, another thing you need to consider is the job description and specification. Asheesh Advani, co-author of Small Business Financing Guide, educates that you should use the job analysis to write job description and specification. You can then create your recruitment materials, such as a classified advert.

Job description is an outline of how the job fits in to the company. It should point out in broad terms the job’s goals, responsibilities and duties. First, write down the job title and whom that person will report to. Next, develop a job statement or summary describing the position’s major and minor duties. Define how the job relates to other positions in the company by stating which of them are subordinate and which are of equal responsibility and authority, guides David Javitch, president of Javitch Associates, Massachusetts.



For a one-person business hiring its first employee, the steps already mentioned may seem unnecessary, but remember, you are laying the foundation for your personnel policy, which will be essential as your company grows. Keeping detailed records from the time you hire your first employee will make things a lot easier when you hire others.

Mary Massad, director of HR product development for Administaff, a personnel management company in the USA, says job description is not just for screening candidates anymore, today, business owners are finding numerous ways to put an employee’s job description to work for them. When it comes to job description, flexibility is the key. It may be wise to create more generic job descriptions that emphasise expectations and accountability, rather than specific tasks, thereby encouraging employees to focus on results rather than job duties. A detailed job description is also easier to maintain as it does not require modification with every minor change in duties.



Research shows that in the USA, for instance, written job descriptions have become increasingly important due to the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in July 1992. There, a well-developed job description can provide details on the “essential functions” of a job. This is very helpful when an employee requests reasonable accommodation under the ADA. The job description can contain prerequisites for positions such as educational requirements, employment experience, physical requirements, supervisory responsibilities and certificates or licences needed. Well-developed, accurate job descriptions may also prove useful in providing a defence against charges of employment discrimination beyond the recruiting process.



 Though it still remains a hiring tool in the most traditional sense, a well-crafted description identifying a job by title, essential functions and requirements also spells out the knowledge, abilities and skills required to perform a job successfully. These additional descriptions are extremely helpful when it comes to employee training and career development. A well-crafted job description can also be used for the following:

Performance management: You can use it to set measurable performance goals based on duties in the job description, and then coach your employees to meet these goals.

Training and employee development: You can use your employee job descriptions, along with descriptions of possible job promotions, as incentives for employees to pursue classes, seminars and other career development activities.


Additional benefits

Compensation: According to Massad, job descriptions can be helpful in developing a standardised compensation programme with minimums and maximums for each position.

Recognition and rewards: You can use the description as a baseline for performance, and as a tool to encourage employee performance “above and beyond” the job description in order to receive recognition and rewards.

Discipline: Experts say if you need to, you can use the job description to illustrate that an employee is not adequately performing job functions.

Return-to-work programmes: Massad says you can prepare for light or modified duty options to allow for a smoother transition from a workers’ compensation injury or leave.


Job specification

Stever Robbins, a business management expert says the job specification, on its own part, describes the personal requirements you expect from the employee. Like the job description, it includes the job title, whom the person reports to, and a summary of the position. However, it also lists any educational requirements, desired experience and specialised skills or knowledge required. It includes salary range and benefits. Here, you finish by listing any physical or other special requirements associated with the job, etc.


Final note

Writing the job analysis, description and specification will help you determine whether you need a part- or full-time employee, whether the person should be permanent or temporary, and whether you could use an independent contractor to fill the position. Through this strategy, your business will be productive and profitable.


Till we meet on Wednesday.

  GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Certified Public Speaker/MC, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker and Career Management Coach. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.

Tel: 08055068773; 08187499425

Email: gokeiles2010@gmail.com

Website: www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng

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