A Job Description (JD) is a written statement of what the job holder does, how it is done, under what conditions it is done and why it is done. It describes what the job is all about, throwing light on job content, environment and conditions of employment.
It is descriptive in nature and defines the purpose and scope of a job. The main purpose of writing a job description is to differentiate the job from other jobs and state its outer limits.
Contents: A job description usually covers the following information: 1. Job title: Tells about the job title, code number and the department where it is done. 2. Job summary: A brief write-up about what the job is all about. 3. Job activities: A description of the tasks done, facilities used, the extent of supervisory help, etc. 4. Working conditions: The physical environment of job in terms of heat, light, noise and other hazards. 5. Social environment:Size of the work group and interpersonal interactions required to do the job.
Problems with Job Descriptions
Job description serves as a valuable guide for both the employees and the employer. Employees know what they are supposed to do well in advance. Employers, on the other hand, can take collective steps when the duties covered by the job description are not performed as required. In actual practice, several problems crop up consciously or unconsciously while formulating job descriptions.
1. It is not easy to reduce all the essential components of a job in the form of a clear and precise document.
2. Job descriptions are sometimes not updated as job duties change.
3. They can limit the scope of activities of the job holder, reducing organisational flexibility.
Writing Clear and Specific Job Descriptions
According to Ernest Dale, the following guidelines should be kept in mind while writing job descriptions:
1. The JD should indicate the nature and scope of the job, including all important relationships.
2. It should be brief, factual and precise; use active verbs such as collect mail, sort out ‘mail’, ‘distribute’ mail, etc. Avoid statements of opinion. Give a clear picture of the job; explain all the duties and responsibilities of the job in greater detail.
3. More specific words be chosen to show (i) the kind of work, (ii) the degree of complexity, (iii) the degree of skill required, (iv) the extent to which problems are standardised and (v) the degree and type of accountability.
4. The extent of supervision available should also be clearly stated.
5. The reporting relationships must also be clearly indicated (e.g., who reports to whom, frequency, etc.).