Start-ups: The Importance of Written Job Descriptions

Your new company has decided to hire on some permanent staff!  However you decide to go about trying to find your new recruits (see my June blog post!), it’s important for your company to have clear and concise job descriptions before you start looking for your potential new hires.  If you begin the recruiting process with job descriptions already in place, you have taken the first step of setting expectations for these new employees.  Both you and the new hires know exactly what’s expected of them right from the get go.  Another reason job descriptions are beneficial is that they provide a perfect starting point when you sit down with employees for performance reviews.  You essentially have a list of job responsibilities by which to gauge their performance.  Also, according to an article on NFIB.com (National Federation of Independent Business), job descriptions actually help boost employee morale!  “They show employees that their employer has well-thought-out goals and directives”, says Charles Krugel, attorney and owner of Labor, Employment Law & HR Practices Group in Chicago.  And let’s not forget what is probably the most crucial reason, which is protecting your company from a legal standpoint.  If you ever have to take disciplinary action or terminate someone’s employment due to work performance, you will need a clearly written job description to show exactly how that person is not meeting job expectations.   

Hopefully you’re convinced of the importance of having written job descriptions, so now let’s talk about how to start that process.  It may be more simple than you think!  First, there are many free templates available on the internet.  There are short versions that start with a basic outline that’s already tailored for jobs in your industry.  And there are also longer Word documents you can download and completely customize.  If you’re more the DIY-type, here are some guidelines to get you started:  Begin with the Job Title and the Supervisor or Manager this person will report to.  Follow with a list of responsibilities for this position.  Next list any requirements like education, experience or specific skill sets you would like this person to have.  And then be sure to note any job conditions this position requires, like working weekends or lifting over 10 pounds.  And you’re done!  Follow this process for each position you currently have, and when you need to create a new position you’ll be a job description pro!

Blog Post by Susan Heidenreich