Creating job descriptions in 6 steps
- Frances Gallimore
- How to
- 9 August 2022
- 3 min
- Managing and growing
How do you write a job description? The following roadmap will lead you straight to a crystal-clear job profile. Telling you and your employee exactly what to expect from one another.
A job description provides convenience and clarity by outlining the duties, authority and responsibilities of your employees. It also highlights what experience and characteristics employees needs to do the job well. You can also use the description when drafting job ads and employment contracts (in Dutch). On top of that, job descriptions form the basis for performance reviews with employees. Finally, a clear job description is important when you need to reorganise your business. All in all, there are plenty of reasons to learn more about job descriptions.
Do you have an employee handbook? Include all your job descriptions. This will tell all employees what the various positions within your company entail.
The following six steps will help you draw up a good job description.
Step 1: purpose of the position
The first step is determining the purpose of the position. What will the employee do for your company? The answer to this question is the purpose of the position.
At larger companies, employees will often have a more specialised, more specific role than employees at smaller companies. A small company with a handful of employees will usually have more ‘jacks of all trades’.
In 2020, self-employed professional Sasja Roodenrijs opened her bakery Chef Cookie. She now has 10 employees and is ready to open a second outlet. To make this happen, she is looking for a manager for the production facility in Schipluiden. She chose to keep the purpose of the position informal and light-hearted: a kook who will help me bake cookies. Someone I can trust blindly and who will keep production running smoothly. “An overly formal description would not reflect the position or my company.”
Step 2: duties and responsibilities
The second step is to define the duties and responsibilities of the role. Consider whether it is an all-round job or a specialist position. “For a week, jot down all the activities you associate with the position”, advises Nicole Barten, district manager at employment agency Luba.
Roodenrijs stresses that duties should be described clearly and transparently. “Our job description for general production workers states that you will be expected to perform a wide range of duties. From washing dishes to making dough and from baking cookies to helping in the shop. In my previous hospitality business, I noticed that some workers refused to make coffee or clean.” Roodenrijs is now keen to avoid these disputes and discussions.
Step 3: figure out education requirements
In the third step, you identify what education or knowledge candidates need to do the job well. “Education requirements are a good cut-off.”
Do you want your employees to have a specific degree or is it more important that they have a certain level of knowledge and experience? “Your instincts will usually tell you whether you need applicants with a non-tertiary or tertiary degree”, Barten continues. “Alternatively, you may be looking for someone with specific knowledge and accompanying certification. Seek information and assistance from trade associations. Or search online for examples of job profiles in CLA-related job books and check for requirements.”
Step 4: desired skills
Look at what skills and character traits (new) employees should have. Listing these skills and traits will also help you decide what skills and/or behavioural traits candidates will have to develop. Incorporate this list into a personal development plan.
For Roodenrijs, a person’s character is more important than a degree. “Enthusiasm, work ethic, and passion are key for me. People tend to overemphasise experience, while character is what really matters. There are huge differences between people. There was this 15-year-old girl who I would have loved to give a permanent contract. But that is not allowed under the Working Conditions Act. Although she was young, she had more energy and stronger work ethics than more experienced people.”
Barten recommends searching search job boards for job ads in the same industry. “Take a look at the job requirements. If you find a trait that you would like your ideal employee to have, include it in the job description.”
Step 5: check your job description
You now know what requirements and duties are most important for you. See if they form a coherent picture and adjust them if necessary.
Barten warns employers against putting together a random set of incompatible duties: “Do not ask an engineer to run your billing department as well. On top of that, check whether the expected duties can feasibly be performed in the time available.”
Step 6: keep the job description up-to-date
Keep your job description current. “Build a profile that fits the position now”, Barten recommends “but will also stay aligned with the position as it develops. Consider changes in the market or in your business, such as plans to launch an online shop. Specify your plans and the accompanying changes. For example, a bicycle repairman might need practical knowhow about repairing city bikes now. With the advent of e-bikes, however, technological expertise and in-depth knowledge of bicycle batteries may become more important.”
Evaluate the job description after 6 months and adjust as necessary. If you find that employees do other duties than those listed in the profile, you can consider adding them. “During performance reviews, review whether the established job description matches what the employee does every day.”
Tip: Take a sample job description and adapt it. View a fictitious example in this (Dutch) pdf file.