What is the Purpose of a Job Description?

Some organizations have very structured job descriptions, with detailed processes and automated systems to keep up with job descriptions. However, other organizations have more limited resources or may not have a formal human resources department, or may not have an embedded process for creating and maintaining effective job descriptions.


If this describes your organization, check out this information outlining the purpose of a job description to make it less of a burden.

The Purpose of Job Descriptions

“The purpose is to ensure that you’re hiring the right people to fill the right positions.” Mary Anne Kennedy told us in a recent BLR webinar. Job descriptions are core to accomplishing this goal.

Most people don’t intend to do their job poorly. When someone isn’t performing well, it’s often because they’re in the wrong job—and a well-written job description can be the first step in preventing this from happening in the first place. You need to be able to design a well-crafted job description that you can post as the start to finding the right candidates for the role.

With new technology and an improving job market, you’ll soon find yourself facing a buyers’ market of applicants who will have many more jobs and offers to consider. This makes writing concise and effective job descriptions a crucial component for setting your organization apart from the competition in order to attract the best candidates, and using those job descriptions to ensure you really do get the right people in the right roles.

“Well-written and effectively-developed job descriptions are communication tools that allow both employees and candidates to clearly understand the expectations of the role, its essential duties, the competences [and] responsibilities, along with the required educational credentials and experience.” Kennedy explained.

Employers need a way to ensure that your goals and values as an organization are reflected within the job description. Reflecting core values in a job description helps to ensure behavioral accountability and increase commitment to the mission and vision. You want to make sure that– as an organization–you have set forward what you hold people accountable for (not just the work). Ask yourself: What behaviors are critical to your organization? This might include:

  • Direct communication
  • Ability to develop oneself and others
  • Accountability
  • Leading strategically
  • Building alignment between groups

By the inclusion of behaviors like these, you’re not only getting the right type of people into your organization, you’re helping candidates to understand the culture.

And don’t forget: just as individual roles change over time, the job descriptions should change with them. There are very few positions that do not evolve. Most change. Systems and processes evolve. The job descriptions should be continually updated as the duties change over time. The job description needs to evolve and continue to be correctly classified.

“A well-documented job description is a living/evolving tool that reflects the current needs of the position, which continues to propel the organization forward.” Kennedy noted.

To register for a future webinar, visit

Mary Anne Kennedy is the principal consultant at MAKHR Consulting, LLC, a full-service human resources advisory firm. MAKHR Consulting provides the full spectrum of HR services and programs, including all aspects of talent acquisition – from the full cycle recruitment process to succession planning and performance management.

3 thoughts on “What is the Purpose of a Job Description?”

  1. Of course, job descriptions have other critical uses, too (e.g., identifying essential functions for disability situations).

  2. Chris this is spot on! I find that many people struggle with creating a job description, because they simple incorporate too little or too much of the wrong information. I always advise my fellow colleagues in HR to use as it’s good tool that walks you through the process and after a few minutes you’ve got yourself a great, unique job description that’s ready to post and share with world. The hiring process should always start this way. Understanding what will make for a successful hire is key to identifying the right talent and putting this in writing is a crucial first step. Failing to do this will always make things harder in the long run.

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