Job Description Writing Tips

Job Description Writing Tips

While job descriptions are important in many ways, describing job responsibilities clearly and concisely can be challenging. The following tips may be helpful to you. In addition, you may find it useful to take our online course, "Writing an Effective Job Description".

1. Initial Preparation

Do some initial preparation and advance thinking:

  • What are the 4 - 6 major end results the job must accomplish on an ongoing basis?
    • What are the activities associated with getting these end results accomplished?
    • What type of independent judgment and discretion is exercised?
    • What types of decisions are made?
  • Begin by listing the activities associated with the job, then cluster those activities into related groupings. Review the groupings to identify the nature of the accountability associated with the activities.
  • List the responsibilities in descending order of importance and assign a percent of time spent on each. This helps the reader get a clearer picture of the job. (Note: the FLSA regulations no longer use "percent of time" in the duties tests, so this percentage will be used primarily to understand the job content).

2. Put Yourself in the Reader's Place

  • Think about how to describe the position to someone who is unfamiliar with the position or department.
  • Avoid the use of jargon, acronyms, or other non-standard language.

3. Structure Your Statements

Use the following model as a way to structure each statement:

Action Word + Subject + Specific Activities

Hint: Make sure to be specific about the activities to be performed. See below for examples.

Examples:

Action Word Subject Specific Activities
Prepare Monthly financial reports by
  • Collecting and verifying financial data
  • Entering current data into spreadsheets
  • Running analysis reports
  • Consolidating financial figures into standard monthly reports
Maintain Audio-visual equipment inventory by
  • Tracking borrowed equipment
  • Entering new equipment into equipment log
  • Ensuring the accuracy of the equipment database

4. See a Completed Sample

Refer to the sample job description below.