You’re looking to hire someone for a new position. You need to advertise for the job and write a description. How do you write an effective job description, one that will get you the person with the skills you need to do the job?
The first thing you need to do is determine what the person in this job will do; that is, what are the major functions of the job? A function is a major area of work that is done by one person. For example, functions of an assistant’s job might be typing, correspondence, conference coordination and filing. Choose four to eight major functions in your description and, to keep things simple, describe those functions in no more than five words each.
After you have figured out what the functions of the job are, you need to determine how much time the person will have to devote to each of the functions, to define the relative importance of each function in the job.
The next step is to further break down the functions into the job duties. These are the actions that a person must take in order to carry out the functions of the job. Duties define the methods and procedures used to carry out the functions. Again, in the interest of clarity and directness, write no more than six to eight duties for each function. When you do, be sure to answer the questions of how the duty is performed, why it is performed, and what is performed. Use simple language, without any jargon. You will also want to include the frequency of each duty – how often it is performed.
For example, for the function of conference coordination, the duties might involve such tasks as: scheduling speakers for departmental seminars by calling people from listings, finding out if they are available, determining the dates of the event and writing correspondence confirming the date, etc.
Next, you want to state the job requirements, the skills, knowledge and abilities that a person must have to perform the job well. And these requirements should be tied to the duties. A skill is something you know that can help you perform the duties, such as public speaking skills, typing skills, negotiating skills.
As part of the job description, you also want to specify if there are any physical, environmental or special demands involved.
Finally, end with a summary, a brief overview of the job, including the degree of supervision that the person in the job will receive.
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