03/01/14 By Jennifer Brown

Job-DescriptionsDid you know that job descriptions are typically the first thing a court looks at as part of any claim brought against an employer? More importantly, they can help keep you from landing in court in the first place!

Job descriptions lay the ground work for a position. They identify the roles and responsibilities of each position. Job descriptions should be used as part of the recruiting, compensation, and performance management processes. Without job descriptions, you won’t know:

• which applicants meet the job requirements,
• what to pay for the position,

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• whether or not the employee is fulfilling the requirements of the position.

In addition, employees won’t know what they need to do on the job to be successful. And, job descriptions are critical in evaluating potential job accommodations that may be needed given an employee’s medical issue.

Job descriptions should include:

• position title;
• whether the position is exempt or non-exempt;
Note: Visit the Fair Labor Standards Act website for position classification information here. Also, the DOL Site has a free tutorial on whether a position is exempt or non-exempt here.
• a position summary;
• essential and non-essential responsibilities/functions;
Note: The essential functions should represent those duties that must be performed in the job. When assigning essential functions to a job, first determine whether the employee is actually required to perform that function.
• knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs);
• education and experience; and
• physical, work environment and special (e.g., Top Secret clearance) requirements.

To help you write your job descriptions, visit the Department of Labor-sponsored website,

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O*NET Resource Center here. You will find the descriptions of many jobs here.

YOUR TURN: How have job descriptions helped you and your employees? Please leave your reply below.


photo credit stock images via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jennifer Brown is the founder of PeopleTactics LLC, she is devoted to helping small business owners implement solutions to prevent Human Resources problems that drain them of their time, money, and energy. Jennifer works with small businesses in order to help them build stronger employee relationships, understand and comply with employment laws, establish policies, and set up easy-to-use HR systems to consistently avoid problems.

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