I think a job description is a blunt, outdated instrument to explain what it may be like to work in a certain position at a company. It's better than nothing, I suppose (like a resume would tell you more about a person than nothing) but it's 2013 and we can deliver more interactive explanations. Resumes are designed to make processing and filtering people easier. Job descriptions (which look quite similar - text + bullets) are just the other side of that same coin.Because I travel in circles where words like innovate, disrupt and reinvent are commonplace, I no longer hold onto anything for the sake of it. And resonating with startup thinking I have discarded a lot of what I learned during my years in corporate America. But I have a hard time with the idea of letting go of the job description as a management tool. And that is just what a job description is -- a tool.
Here are some of the uses for a job description besides, of course, describing the job:
- Clear description of what is expected for satisfactory job performance. This becomes a contract of sorts between the employer and the employee.
- Evaluating the job to determine job requirements and qualifications which also translates into well thought out recruiting and training and development criteria.
- Comparing the job to other jobs in the marketplace and internally to determine the right pay level. Titles are not enough to use in comparing jobs.
- Organizational tool to help plan who does what – in other words making sure you have the right people on the right seats on the right bus.
- Objective standard for measuring job performance. Which means that the job description needs to be written in performance language.
The thing about tools is that they are meant to be used to accomplish an objective. The more skillfully used, the more effective the tool. I don't think the problem that most people have with job descriptions has to do with the document itself but with how poorly it is constructed and how ineffectively it is used.
I hope that those of you with an opinion on this will weigh in by commenting. I wonder if the AVC commenter was onto something that I am missing.