• James Walton

The 5 Central Elements of a Job Description

One of the four foundational documents of any business' HR department are accurate, compliant and thorough job descriptions.

Writing an effective job description is more that these 5 elements, but it's not less. Here's the key areas you'll need to focus on:

1. Position Title and Supporting Details

  • Job Title: some thoughtfulness here is helpful because this is how your people will often answer the question, "what do you do?" Providing a title that makes sense both internally to the organization, and is understandable to outsiders is helpful.

  • Classification: outline whether the role is part-time, full-time, FLSA exempt or not. If you don't know how FLSA classification impacts your employees, this is important to get right so reach out.

  • Hours per Week: how many and at what time?

  • Rate of Pay: a salary range is preferable and demonstrates an understanding of the market

  • Travel Requirements: usually expressed as a percentage of time (ie: 50%) an employee can expect to spend on the road.

  • Reports To: include the title of the role the role that supervises this one, not an individual's name

2. Job Description Summary

Usually two to three sentences that articulates why the role exists, what value it adds to the company and the key responsibilities and functions. I like to start mine with "The role of [job title] exists to accelerate the mission of [company name] to [insert mission statement] by..." This helps connect the day-to-day activities of the particular role with the overarching purpose of the organization.

3. Essential Functions

Often a bullet pointed list between 2 and 5 entries, frequently beginning with an action verb and ordered by the amount of time the employee will spend doing each task (key responsibilities first.)

4. Job Factors

These will vary somewhat based on your organization. Typical elements include:

  • Supervisory responsibilities: who will this role be overseeing?

  • Work environment: include a brief description of the physical space this role will occupy.

  • Physical Demands: what must a person in this role be physically able to do?

  • Required Education and Experience: be sure to separate the requirements the position requires from the attributes the incumbent currently possess.

5. Other Duties as Assigned

Boilerplate language to indicate the lists above are not comprehensive and duties may change as business conditions necessitate.

Why This is Important

To be clear is to be kind. Job descriptions help align expectations, outline responsibilities, and provide a neutral source of truth to evaluate performance. Additionally, it will help you screen applicants all the better.

Job descriptions are part of the structure every business needs to scale up sustainably. And helping businesses scale up sustainably is what Trellis Group exists to do. If you need a trustworthy guide to help you along the way, get in touch. I'd love to start a conversation.


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