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Characteristics of a Job Description

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Job descriptions are valuable tools for both employers and employees. A well-written job description provides a detailed overview of the position, which can help with pre-employment screening, interviewing, post-hire training and ongoing employee development. Without a job description to reference during an interview, a hiring manager can have a hard time trying to ascertain if a person has the skills and abilities necessary to take on the role. Companies that don't use job descriptions can also run into misunderstandings with employees after jobs are filled, if there’s a discrepancy over the specific aspects of the roles.

Skills, Education and Qualifications

A good job description provides an overview of the skills, training and educational levels necessary to a position. This might include a recommendation for how many years experience is preferred and what type of degree or certification is required for the role. Having this information in place gives potential applicants information they need prior to applying, and it helps a human resources officer or hiring manager quickly sort through resumes and disregard ones that don't meet the criteria.

Personal Characteristics

Job descriptions should explain the types of personal and professional traits required for a position. For example, a preschool teaching job would include skills like patience, while a customer service job description would require good people and communication skills. Would-be employees who read the job description before applying to a job can ascertain if they have the personality type necessary to the role.

Job Responsibilities

The job description includes a rundown of the responsibilities of the position. This includes not only obvious responsibilities, but behind-the-scenes requirements as well. For example, a job description for a restaurant waiter would include basic responsibilities like greeting diners, relaying specials, taking orders and delivering food. It might also include ancillary duties specific to the establishment, such as post-shift cleaning duties and restocking supplies. Including this in a job description ensures there are no surprises for staffers once they’re hired.

Chain of Command

Detail job descriptions describe the internal chain of command as related to the individual position. It outlines who the employee reports to and who the position supervises. In some instances, the description may detail the parameters of the position’s autonomy and decision-making process. This information helps a job applicant get a picture of management-employee responsibilities in the role and helps clarify chain of command if problems arise.


Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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