S. Amir Kohan

What is a Job Documentation and Jod Description?

We all have heard “Job Description,” but what is it?

Job descriptions follow a general template for content. The same template can
be used in constructing a CEO’s job description as for an airline pilot. It is
the content that falls within the template that varies.

Elements of Job Descriptions Here is a typical job description template:

  • Date the job description was prepared
  • Title of the job
  • FLSA status: Exempt or nonexempt
  • Objective: What does the job accomplish and how does it impact other jobs in
    the organization

Summary of Job Content
Essential job functions: Brief description of the specific tasks, duties, and
Mental and educational requirements: Formal education (degrees),
certifications, licensing, journey-level craft training, extensive mathematical
training (essential job requirements; the job cannot be done without these
educational requirements)
Skill requirements: Typing, welding, swimming, running harvesting equipment,
docking spacecraft
Physical factors: Hearing, seeing (watching/inspecting), touching, operating,
standing, bending, squatting, reaching, lifting, carrying
Environmental factors: Outside weather conditions, inside the workplace
conditions, confined spaces, heat, cold, wet, dry, odors, dust, hazardous materials
Hours: Number of eight-hour shifts per week, overtime requirements, lunch/break
Unplanned activities: Duties or tasks that could come up, interactions, and
support of other jobs
Approvals: Reviews and approvals of management people authorized to design
job content

Job Descriptions in the Global Environment. Global consistency can be helpful over
time. While compensation rates may vary from country to country, the same job content
may apply across borders. Having job content consistency may be helpful in the
outreach and recruiting efforts your organization makes. Be sure, however, that the wording
used accurately communicates the message. Expectations for honesty and forthrightness
exist at many locations around the world. Yet, depending on the work location, how the
message is expressed may be quite different. In France, value is often placed on open
disagreement as discussions move toward consensus. In Mexico, open disagreement is
considered rude and disrespectful. In Indonesia, an open disagreement would be
considered aggressive and negative because the reputation of the other person can be damaged.
International differences do matter.

Job Specifications. A job description is a series of statements describing the role,
responsibility, duties, and scope of a particular job. A job specification states the
minimum qualifications required for performing that job. What education is required?
What physical and mental abilities are a must? What experience is essential? Those answers
are posted in the job requisition so potential candidates will be able to assess the match
they may have with the job requirements.

Writing and Updating Job Descriptions and Job Specifications. It is the duty of
the supervisor and/or manager to develop and maintain accurate job descriptions and job
specifications. Often this is done with the help of HR professionals. In larger
organizations, there is a staff of HR people who are responsible for evaluating, rating, and
assigning pay levels to job descriptions and compensation classifications as appropriate.
They support line managers and supervisors in documenting their subordinate jobs. An annual
review is mandated for all federal contractors who are required to maintain affirmative
action plans for the disabled. Those requirements are focused on the need for accurate
descriptions of physical and mental job requirements. Essential tasks, duties, and
responsibilities are considered in order to determine whether a job accommodation can be made
or circumstances call for it.

Accurate job specifications are important when a job opening occurs because the hiring
manager often needs to move quickly. Pausing the process to be sure job specifications
are accurate will be unnecessary if the specifications are already reviewed and updated.

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