Job Description – YAY OR NAY?

Job Description

For the employer: It functions as a foundation for developing interview questions, carrying out performance evaluations, and setting goals, salary increases, and growth paths.

For the employee: It typically outlines the necessary skills, training and education needed by a potential employee. It will spell out duties and responsibilities of the job.

Components of a Job Description

  • Overview. This is a small summary of who the employer is and what the company advertising for the job does in the job market.
  • Reporting. It provides details on the reporting and organizational structure. This will help the employee better understand how their activities fit into the total organization.
  • Duties and Responsibilities. Usually this section is the most lengthy. It details what the job actually entails and can be quite specific. It should detail any supervisory functions in addition to being as specific as possible describing tasks the employee will face every day. This is also the best place to indicate whether the person will deal with customers, the public or only internal employees. You can also use this section to place priorities on the activities.
  • Attributes/Skills needed for the position. For example, If the position involves the use of machinery (or computers), spell out what type of machines or software the employee will use. Also detail any technical or educational requirements that may be critical or desired. This is also the place to provide some insights into the type of work environment you are attempting to maintain. Is it pure business, or must the person be able to contribute to an overall spirit of the organization?
  • Qualifications. A special skill or type of experience or knowledge that makes someone suitable to do a particular job or activity. For example: education (degree, diploma or high school certificate) number of years of experience and any other relevant qualifications to the employer depending on the job.
  • Reporting. It provides details on the reporting and organizational structure. This will help the employee better understand how their activities fit into the total organization.

Hence, before you hit that apply button, take the time to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How many of the requirements/qualifications do I meet?

In a competitive job market, employers typically have their choice of job candidates, so unless you meet at least half of the requirements described, don’t waste your time by applying for the job.

Pay particular attention to the education requirement. While the education requirement listed may seem unrealistically high, education is very easy to check – and to verify – so it is often used as a key criteria. The other requirements are usually (but not always) listed in descending order of importance. So if you meet the bottom three requirements, but not the top two, you might better spend your time applying for a different job.

  1. Beyond the job title, does this look like a job that I would be happy doing?

Maybe the job title is “administrative assistant” (a job you want), but the job requires someone who to do some accounts payables tasks and financial reporting, which you can do (but hate).

Carefully read the description of what the person in the job will be expected to do, often called “Duties” or “Responsibilities.” Often, like the job’s requirements, the duties/responsibilities are listed in descending order of relevance and importance to the job. Note the things in the list that you don’t enjoy doing or don’t do well – how high are they on the list?

3.What action verbs should I pay attention to? 

There are common but relevant action verbs that you should underline (with a red marker if possible) as you scheme through the job description. They help you to understand each of the duties or responsibilities listed in detail, the following are some of the few to look out for:

  • coordinates
  • develops
  • evaluates
  • inputs
  • maintains
  • operates
  • schedules
  • supervises
  • trains, and so on
  1. Does the description contain any questions for me to answer?

Asking a question in the job description that requires an answer in your response is an employer’s favorite way to tell if you have carefully read the description. It is also a quick test of how good an employee you might be. Typically, fewer than ten percent of job seekers answer the question, which immediately eliminates ninety percent of them from consideration.

Answering the question indicates that you can read and understand what is in the description and also that you can follow directions. An ability to follow directions is an important “skill” to demonstrate because it is what nearly every job requires.

  1. How do they want me to respond to the job posting?

Some organizations ask you submit through an applicant tracking system by simply uploading your application materials and hitting “submit.” But, the description may also contain other specifications like a specific email address for responses and/or follow up. There might also be directions in terms of what kind of materials to submit and what format they should be in.