4 Benefits of Effective Job Descriptions

Writing job descriptions may seem to be an onerous task, but if done well, there can be many benefits for your organization.

“Unfortunately, not all hiring managers and companies value a well-developed job description. So, it’s critical to understand the rewards – along with the mitigating risks as they apply to federal, state and local laws – of an effective job description.” Mary Anne Kennedy told us in a recent BLR webinar.

There are 4 key benefits to effective job descriptions:

1) Better Recruitment

Well-written job descriptions serve as communication tools that allow both employees and candidates to clearly understand the expectations of the role, its essential duties, and the required competences, educational credentials, and experience for the role. By doing this well, it can improve both internal and external recruitment, and can retain and motivate the best talent by ensuring that employee expectations are aligned with business expectations of what the role entails.

2) Better Compensation Data

While the direct compensation probably shouldn’t be on the job description, the job description should allow you to do research to determine the market value of that role. It should also allow HR to assess the internal value too – to see how it fits within your compensation structure as compared to other jobs.

If done well, the job description will help HR assess where the job falls within any existing pay structures so that you don’t create inequity or compression issues when filling the role.

3) Legal Compliance

While maintaining job descriptions is not required by law, doing so can help your organization stay in compliance with many existing employment laws. Here are some examples:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act. Your job description can help to ensure proper classification of roles as exempt vs. non-exempt, which will then affect the overtime eligibility of the person filling the role.
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963. This law is aimed at abolishing disparity based on gender. Obviously, your job description should not indicate that there are gender pay differences or bias.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This prohibits unlawful discrimination against any individual with respect to hiring, compensation or other terms, conditions and privileges of employment based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. By matching up the best candidates based on factors that are relevant – as noted in the job description – you’ll be able to better prove that employment decisions were taken based on the ability to perform the job, not based on illegal factors.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). By describing the working conditions in your job description, you also set out how to safely perform the job. This is also an opportunity to note whether the employee will need to be able to perform hazardous activities.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity. Be sure your job description allows you to conduct a fair interviewing and hiring process without leaving out any groups of potential candidates.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Job descriptions should not discriminate on the basis of age unless there is a valid reason for doing so.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act. The job description can be an essential component in determining the essential functions of the job when working out reasonable accommodations for disabled individuals. The job description should directly specify the essential and non-essential job functions, and should be periodically reviewed for accuracy on this point.

4) People Planning

People planning is critical to the company’s business plan. In order to execute and measure success of the goals and objectives for the organization the following people components are vital:

  • Headcount – both current and gaps. A full list of job descriptions across the organization shows all of the roles for the organization, and thus can show what roles are not filled and help with future planning.
  • Succession planning. Job descriptions can note the role of the position within the organization and the future career path so that recruitment is forward-looking to future roles. Hiring managers can then consider candidate fit for not just the current vacancy, but also consider the fit of the individual for future advancement.
  • Training, development, and performance. Job descriptions can be matched up with the performance evaluation system to identify areas where additional training is needed.

For more information on the benefits of job descriptions, order the webinar recording of “Job Descriptions with Value: Strategies, Tools, and Technology to Optimize Job Description Content.” 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 “4 Benefits of Effective Job Descriptions”

  1. “While the direct compensation probably shouldn’t be on the job description, the job description should allow you to do research to determine the market value of that role.”

    As a professional, I can guarantee you that I avoid jobs like the plague where the description isn’t even competent enough to describe what the company is offering in return for my skills. I’m not here to fill in your knowledge gaps about what I’m worth – I expect you to know that already. would you hire a candidate whose CV was just a list of things they are looking for?, alongside weak assuarances that they would turn up most days, be kind of on time for the most part, and wearing clothes? But were vague about what concerete skills that candidate had to offer you? That’s how you come across when 99% of your job description is about what you want, and the only details you have about what you are offering in return are “pension, and competetive salary”. You might as well just put “we’ll provide the minimum we’re required to by law, to distinguish your service from slavery.” Don’t be surprised if only weak candidates are interested.

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