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Why You Need Job Descriptions

Writing job descriptions is an important step in planning your staffing programs. They form the foundation for many important processes such as job postings, recruitment, selection, setting expectations, compensation, training and performance management. Job descriptions should give a brief overview of the role, how it relates to your company vision, a list of key responsibilities, requirements and qualifications.

Time spent developing job descriptions has several pay-offs:

  • Job descriptions assist in making sure your staff duties align with your company vision
  • They allow you to make informed hiring decisions by developing recruiting strategies that clearly outline to applicants their role and responsibilities
  • When conducting interviews, job descriptions should form the foundation for the development of interview questions
  • Job descriptions can also be used to determine areas in need of training and development when expectations or requirements are not being met
  • Having clear job descriptions also allows for a basis on which to develop compensation plans that ensure jobs are being compensated in ways that reflect their levels of responsibility and qualification in the organization
  • Finally, when used as a means to communicate expectations, job descriptions can also be used as a basis for performance management. For the employee, having a clear job description allows them to understand the responsibilities and duties that are required and expected of them

Job descriptions typically have the following sections:

  • A high-level summary of the key duties
  • Identification of the values that should be demonstrated by all staff
  • A detailed list of the responsibilities
  • A description of the experience, knowledge, skills and abilities required
  • A list of any special working conditions or minimum physical requirements - e.g. must be able to lift 20 pounds

Each task, function or responsibility should start with an action verb that describes the activity in a way that clearly indicates what is expected.

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Some examples of action verbs are:

  • controls
  • coordinates
  • develops
  • evaluates
  • inputs
  • maintains
  • operates
  • schedules
  • supervises
  • trains, and so on

By having a list of up-to-date job descriptions for all your positions, you will have the foundation to develop many key HR programs to drive the success of your business.

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