10 mistakes to avoid when writing job descriptions

When writing or reviewing your company’s job descriptions, avoid these 10 most common mistakes:

  1. Underestimate the scale of the task: paying close attention and taking enough time to write a job description is essential for a constructive and efficient outcome
  2. Creating a job description for each individual: a job description should be a written statement of a specific function, not of a person
  3. Too long or too short: the job purpose should contain 3 to 5 key accountabilities and their specific job duties. Focus on facts and important data
  4. Too vague: be clear, concrete and concise. Clearly define the scope of the key responsibilities, the level of complexity and the impact of the role within the company. Describe the role in the team and the type of interaction with internal and external people
  5. Wrong terminology: adopt action verbs to describe precisely the job duties, the expected outcome and tools/data to be used. i.e. extract key client data to produce monthly reporting based according to the pre-defined requirements. Avoid words like “manage” or “management of” which are too vague and do not use names of clients, colleagues or providers
  6. Excessive requirements in work experience and knowledge/technical skills: be realistic and do not exaggerate the requirements of the role
  7. Use different templates of job descriptions within your organisation. Seek to align your company around one single job description template and clear guidelines & tips to complete them
  8. Skip the calibration of the job descriptions: every manager has his/her own way to write job descriptions but, ultimately, there must be equity across the organisation. A calibration is strongly advised to meet the need for consistency and to avoid any miss-interpretation of a function
  9. Leave job descriptions “unattended”: the review of job description is necessary not only to fulfil the job grading exercise but also to facilitate the positioning of new employees and the career development of existing staff. They should be regularly reviewed and amended to reflect the evolution of the job and/or its environment
  10. Not sharing them with the employees: the job description needs to be discussed and shared with the employee on start date, but also on a regular basis.