A job description used to be unmissable but now it became completely “essential” to the HR manager. But what do we need it for? What difficulties of elaboration are the HR people really facing?What could be the consequences of a poorly elaborated job description? You will find the answers below!
WHAT DO WE NEED IT FOR?
Many important HR field of activity are closely related to job description. First we have the recruitment part. A job description is the first thing that is elaborated before proceeding to a recruitment and it does come with significant challenges depending on various situations.
Among those situations we have: when the job position doesn’t exist, it results in a job description with new needs: we usually talk about “job creation”. In that type of situation, the job description is called a “job profile” since it requires the profiling of the desired work situation. If that job profile is well done, it will allow for the job description to be written.
Then we have two other situations where a job description is even more relevant. Situation number one: the position already exists and is filled by an agent. For that specific situation, the job description will serve two purposes: a“clarification tool” for the agent and a“communication tool” for the structure. It is a clarification tool because it explains and reminds the agent of what is expected from him, what ressources he has, his obligations and where he stands in the structure… At the same time it will serve as a communication tool because it would represent the perfect excuse to set up evaluation meetings (missions of the agent). Lets not forget that those special occasions are essential to other HR related activities like training or career management etc.
Situation number two: it is an existed position that is not filled. It is not filled because the person who was there before quit, had his contract suspended, was fired or retired..that way the job description comes in a situation of what is commonly known as a “vacancy”.
Beyond that, a job description is also useful in fixing wages. It allows to estimate the “workload” of the position: a fundamental notion in HR! The estimation would actually lead to the identification and the elaboration of the job category depending on a social-professional category (mandatory legally speaking and necessary in determining a job position according to the organisation chart).
Finally, a job description allows to formulate a strategic workforce planning based on obvious organisation issues:a mapping of jobs and skills, a survey of jobs that could lead to an elaboration of a fair pay policy, skills or talents management based on a concept of skills, training engineering etc.
PROBLEMS OF PRACTISE
Some of the problems found in practise are related to the form of the job description. Something that the HR managers actually are to blame for! Most of the time, job descriptions are too exhaustive (many pages) or poorly formulated in respect of the job situation that they are supposed to describe, or completely disconnected to a possible and reachable reality!
The other issue is literally relevant. A job description asks for a certain precondition like for example a total understanding of the actual job and being able to rephrase it clearly and concisely ( not for the HR who is writing it but for the candidate and the structure!!). So it does require a certain skill that is not limited to the form only, but to a through and thorough reflection!
THE CONSEQUENCES OF A POORLY ELBORATED JOB DESCRIPTION
A poorly elaborated job description comes with a lot of consequences! We have those that have a direct impact on recruiting: a poorly formulated job description would lead to “impossible” recruitment, where the structure is looking for “oversized” profiles because their profiling were wrongly made therefor even if it follows with a hiring, it will later result on a failure. The other consequences will reverberate on all the other HR activities with issues like a bad positioning in terms of occupational category (with a risk of legal requalification on the work contract),a wrong basis for the elaboration of career management, unfit vocational training projects, problematic evaluations etc.
FEW TIPS ON HOW TO ELABORATE A JOB DESCRIPTION
1° The first thing to do is to understand the context of the job ( what company is it? what’s its specialty?) Identifying the job mission simply means asking yourself that question: why does this position exist? A typical answer: the mission of a HR manager position could be: “Competence to build and effectively maintain HR development and social management”. keep it mind that it is common to find the term“ purpose” in management terminology which actually is another word for “mission”.
2° The use of actions verbs at the beginning of every sentence is essential. That way there is no room for confusion. The more precise they are the better it is!
3° It is crucial to use short and concise sentences to describe the mission as well as the activities! Think about the user (the money)!
4° The option of a plan: if one chooses to have the content of the job description laid down as tasks, one shouldn’t put more than 5 important activities in which there should only be a maximum of 5 tasks for each described activity. More than that a job description is very exhaustif and has a high risk of creating confusion between task notions and operation’s. While a task is composed of a set of operations, an activity in the other hand is composed of a set of tasks. Obviously, those level or precisions will depend on the status of the agent for who the job description was made for.
5° Present tense is mostly used in a job description.
A job description is a crucial tool in HR activities! Thus, HR actors must handle it firmly. Nowadays, a job description is not just a tool for statistics. it happens to be in the middle of endless needs in organisations changes (related to economic conditions) and agents ambition. wouldn’t it be inappropriate to call it a statistic?