Three Problems With Most Job Descriptions

Julie Shenkman
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A job description plays a crucial role in the hiring process. It acts as the first level of candidate qualification, helping to weed out unsuitable applicants from the get-go. By avoiding these common problems, you can write more accurate and effective descriptions.

Too Vague

Many descriptions are too vague. They offer minimal information about the open position, which makes it difficult for potential applicants to gauge whether or not they meet the qualifications. As a result, your company may be flooded with applications from people who are not suited for the job, increasing the workload of staff recruiters. A vague job description wastes the time of both employees and applicants.

One way to ensure an accurate, comprehensive job description is to involve your colleagues in the writing process. The person who holds the job currently, or employees who have filled the role in the past, are some of the best resources. Because they have ground-level knowledge of the position, they can provide a reality check and offer additional insight. Don't forget to involve the position's direct supervisor in the description creation process, to gain another perspective on how the position fits into the team.


In many cases, a hiring manager writes a job description once, reusing it every time the position opens up. While this saves time, it can lead to problems with hiring and performance. Many positions evolve naturally over time, particularly when a company is young. As a result, the original description may be inaccurate, making it impossible for potential employees to gauge whether or not the job is a good fit.

Outdated descriptions can also cause problems during the initial weeks of employment. The new employee, without an accurate expectation of responsibilities and duties, may waste time and feel lost. To avoid these costly problems, it is important to update the description before each new round of hiring.

Lack of Metrics

A job description has uses beyond the hiring process. When written correctly, it also serves as a way for employees to measure job performance and gives managers a framework for evaluation. Unfortunately, many descriptions do not include metrics that help employees and managers identify successful and unsuccessful performance. This can make it impossible for employees to understand company expectations, which can lead to disagreements and job dissatisfaction.

An effective description should include an explanation of the minimum acceptable requirements for the position, as well as information about the specific responsibilities and duties. When you spell out the tasks and performance standards that make an employee successful, you can avoid sub-par work that can cost the company money and time.

Writing a great job description is a time-consuming process that requires collaboration with multiple colleagues. By making the extra effort to avoid common pitfalls, you can streamline hiring and employment.

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