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Job Description: Definition & Purpose

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

A job description is a document primarily used by employers as an advertisement for prospective employees. It also can be used for determining compensation and performance reviews.


A job description should be written concisely and with the primary purpose of informing. It is not so much a legal document, as it is a way to advise prospective and current employees of what is expected in a specific job. Some employee specialists suggest that job descriptions are not necessarily useful. Dr. John Sullivan is one of those. He believes they are usually worded in such a way that it is difficult to really evaluate a individual's performance. Therefore, if you are using job descriptions, it would be better to write specifically, concretely, and as inclusively as possible.


A job description contains many features. The first is the position title. It should be followed by the name of the person responsible for overseeing that position and the job location. It also is a good idea to include the pay scale range. It is important to add working conditions as this is a way for prospective employees to decide if they are interested in this specific position.


A job description should include the hours and/or shift that the individual performing this position will be working. Most importantly, it will include duties, tasks, and responsibilities that lie within that specific post. This is the area that specifics should be included, including the skill set necessary to complete the tasks outlined.


If you are using job descriptions in your company and/or work setting, it is a good idea to first do a task analysis before writing the document. This basically means examining the job and figuring out the tasks and what sequence are needed to perform the job. Examine the job also to figure out what knowledge and possible expertise is needed. If this position is one you are not personally knowledgeable about, it is more effective to ask your employees who oversee that part of the industry to give input and perform the analysis.


A job description clearly defines what you expect as an employer. As an employee, a well-written job description can help you be prepared and informed of what is expected of you. If done correctly, it can be a useful tool to aid in the communication between management and employees.