The Definition of a Job Description


What a job description means? This article shows you what is the definition of a job description and describe it's objectives in more details

What is a Job Description?

A job description is a "description of the duties" of an employee or group of employees. Job description records for a longer period what is expected of an employee in that specific job. The description provides, among other things, insight into tasks, responsibilities, the most important results that must be achieved, the position within the organization and which job requirements are necessary for a successful job performance. Think of the required competencies and knowledge and experience.

The description and maintenance of functions is an ongoing process. Organizations change and the functions within the organizations too. Just like the employees who perform those functions. For this reason a function building or function book (the total of described functions) is never finished. Existing descriptions will be canceled or need to be adjusted. New descriptions are included.

By describing positions clearly and concretely, employees know what is expected of them and they are given the opportunity to manage themselves. The management possibilities of managers are also being increased. In addition, the job description process makes clear how tasks and responsibilities are divided, how reporting lines run and what results are being pursued. This is important information when setting up or adjusting an organization.

Job descriptions also have a number of other goals, namely:

- basis for the recruitment and selection of new employees
- tool for the preparation of the planning meeting
- tool for drawing up a Personal Development Plan
- aid in determining the training and development needs
- basis for job evaluation

We'll describe the other goals in more details:

1- Basis for recruitment selection

The moment a vacancy arises, the existing job description serves as the basis for the vacancy text. When recruitment agencies are used, it's a reference work for the first selection of suitable candidates.

It's also a useful tool for job interviews or selection interviews. On the basis of the description, the most important elements for the interview can be determined by the selectors. This allows candidates to be specifically targeted.

Before the job description is used, it's important that they are checked for accuracy. Are the aforementioned tasks, responsibilities and the intended results still topical? Is the role still correct within the organization? Are the required knowledge and experience still correct? Do new elements need to be added or not? If this isn't done, there is a risk that the wrong candidate will be hired.

Sometimes it happens that by discussing a job description it becomes clear that a vacancy is actually no longer a vacancy. By dividing responsibilities and duties, a vacancy that has arisen can still be resolved in an alternative way. However, this means that the other descriptions must be adjusted.

2- Tool for the preparation of the planning meeting

During the planning interviewamong other things, agreements are made about the results to be achieved and the competencies that are required for a successful job performance. The results are often derived from the organizational or departmental goals. However, the job description can also be used as a basis for this type of appointment. In addition, the job description states the competencies and knowledge required for the job. Agreements can also be made based on this.

3- Tool for drawing up a Personal Development Plan

Drawing up a Personal development planmany employees find it difficult. For inspiration, one can look at one's own job description or the job description of a job that someone aspires to. Based on the differences between the current performance and the intended function, the development need can be determined and then translated into concrete actions, such as education, on-the-job training, specific assignments or activities etc.

4- Tool for determining training and development needs

At individual level, job descriptions are an aid in determining the training and development needs. The method is the same as when the description is used with the Personal Development Plan.

Job descriptions can also provide input for determining training or development needs at group or department level. When important elements change in a job description that applies to a larger group of employees, this can cause a 'gap' between the current and desired level. Consider, for example, wanting to work in a more customer-oriented way. New responsibilities and result areas may then be added to the job description. This in turn can affect competences and knowledge. The 'gap' that has arisen between the current situation and the desired situation can lead to a group of employees having to follow training or education.

5- Basis for job evaluation

By describing all functions in a clear and transparent manner, it becomes possible to compare and evaluate the functions. The mutual comparison leads an employer to the most objective and fair ranking of positions. This ranking can then be used to introduce differences in pay.

The role of the HR department in describing functions

The HR department has an advisory and steering role in the job description process. Advising in the sense of critically questioning managers and employees about job-related matters and the way in which results and responsibilities are divided over the positions. The usefulness and necessity of a job description can also be critically monitored by HR. Is a new description necessary or can it suffice with a small modification to an existing description that makes it more widely applicable?

Guiding in the sense that HR, possibly together with an external consultancy firm, determines the model for the job descriptions and also determines and monitors the process surrounding the creation of the descriptions.

Job descriptions can be drawn up by the HR department itself. However, some experience in this matter is required. Since it's sometimes difficult to distinguish main issues from side issues. The terminology also requires some experience. By following a targeted course these problems can be solved.

Function book and function matrix

A function book is often an overview or diagram in which the described functions of the same function family are grouped together. For organizations where quite a lot the same type of job occurs at different levels, this can increase the insight into the organization and job structure and thus career opportunities.

Examples of job families are:

- Commerce / sales: head of marketing, head of sales, senior account manager, account manager, commercial manager, marketing employee, commercial employee
- Administration / finance: head controller, head administration, head payroll administration, administrator, payroll administrator, accountant, administrative assistant
- IT: head of IT, IT team leader, IT employee, system administrator, help desk employee
- HR: HR director, head of P&O, P&O Manager, P&O Advisor, HR employee

When these job families are placed in a job matrix that takes the job levels into account, it's also referred to as a job matrix or job reference matrix. Not only the function families are visible, but also the levels to which they are classified. The levels are often linked to the salary scales. A condition for a good job matrix is ‚Äč‚Äčthat the jobs are valued.

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