A job description is like a "snapshot" that serves as a concise definition of a particular job function within a company, according to human resources consultant Judith Lindenberger, MBA, writing for the Business know-how website. However, a well-written job description can serve a much broader purpose. A job description can provide several advantages for a company--and its employees.
Limit Legal Exposure
A job description can prevent hiring, promotion and dismissal decisions based on biased criteria, according to NOLO website, a legal advice portal. In hiring, following a job description can prevent the interviewer from asking illegal questions. For disciplinary actions or dismissal decisions, following a job description can protect the employer in the event of a lawsuit by a disgruntled employee or ex-employee. Holding employees responsible for job duties that are not in writing may also expose the company legally, the U.S.Legal.com website warns.
Serves As Blueprint for Hiring
A job description can serve as a drawing card for desirable, qualified candidates, according to the Monster.com website. The job description can emphasize the qualities the company is seeking, such as "takes decisive action" or "needs minimal supervision." The job description can also help with the interview process, by serving as a guideline for interview questions, NOLO suggests. By developing a similar set of questions for each candidate, employers can compare each prospective job seeker against the criteria included in the job description.
Evaluate Employee Performance
Employers can use a job description to evaluate the performance of each employee, NOLO advises. Job descriptions can also determine how to make pay raise and promotion decisions. Employers can gauge employees' performance against the job description, and provide corrective guidance if an employee is performing at a sub-par level. Employers should avoid basing adverse performance evaluations on poor performance of tasks that are not clearly spelled out in a job description, U.S.Legal.com warns.
Provide Clear Employee Expectations
New hires and newly promoted employees should receive a written job description so that they know exactly what the company expects of them, NOLO advises. Working hours, pay rates, specific duties and any overtime expectations allow employees to be productive from the beginning of their tenure on the job, NOLO and U.S.Legal.com claim. Including the phrase "other duties as assigned" can prevent employees from claiming that a reasonably assigned task falls outside their duties, the Business Management Club website advises. Employers should update the job description periodically, however, so that it reflects an accurate representation of an employee's actual duties, NOLO recommends.