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How to Write an Effective Job Description

Job descriptions are among the most important communication tools a company can have. They should clearly translate the performance expectations of the new team member and identify the essential functions of the position. A well-crafted job description will help you recruit the “right” people and facilitate a smooth hiring process. The big question is how and where do you get started? When it is time to write the job description, think about what is really needed and wanted. Below is some information to help you get started.

Minimum Requirements

When it is time to write the job description, think about what is really needed and wanted.

Whether you are an expert or novice at writing job descriptions, the following should be included in the description at a minimum:

  • Job title (grade-if applicable)
  • Location
  • Travel Requirements
  • Essential functions (American Disabilities Act of 1990)
  • Knowledge, skills and education requirements
  • Management responsibilities (if any)
  • Supervisory relationship
  • Fiscal responsibilities (if any)
  • Description of Compensation/Benefit packages (be specific)
  • Performance expectations and measurements

Essential Functions

The first step is to identify the purpose of the job and the actual job functions. Many times, the position exists to perform the functions (e.g. if you hire someone to be an internal auditor, the ability to perform audits is defined as an essential function).

When evaluating functions, consider the frequency with which a function is performed, the amount of time spent on the function and the consequences if the function is not performed. Essential functions are important because they lead to the defining of the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform the job = having skills.

Performance Based Measurements

Once you have identified the essential job functions and the skills someone needs to have, now it is time to develop the performance-based requirements. Before you can establish the performance expectations, you must define superior performance for the position.

Once you have defined superior performance, then you breakdown the specific performance objectives. The performance expectations must be time based, action oriented and measurable. They should be directly related to what you want the person in the role to accomplish during their first year = the results.

Moving Forward

Once you write your job description, forward it to a supervisor or peer for review. If you are struggling finding the “right” person for the job, then revisit the description for clarity and conciseness.


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