How to Write an Effective Job Description

Effective Job Descriptions

Start with the business owner or the appropriate department:   If you’re writing a description for a newly created position, the business owner typically takes the lead and often develops the job description on his/her own.  When re-writing for a current position – or hiring someone new for a regular position – it is typically the manager of the department to whom the position will report who takes the lead.  Often that manager invites members of his/her team who are performing similar jobs – or jobs that will be affected by the position – to offer their contributions as well.


Do some essential analysis.  Before you draft the actual job description, you should gather as much data as possible about the position.  The more you gather in this step, the easier it will be to draft the job description.  Information and data can include:


  • Some sample job descriptions from other companies and organizations
  • The responsibilities, duties, and tasks of your current employees
  • The responsibilities, duties, and tasks of the position you are seeking to fulfill
  • Identifying and prioritizing the essential elements of the position you are considering
  • Clear understandings about hours, expected deliverables, performance reviews, benefits, and salary

Thinking Outside of the Box! Learn why one Harvard professor believes performance-based hiring is superior to skills-based job descriptions in this article from


Write it.  It’s now time to create the job description itself.  The typical elements found in many job descriptions are:

  • Title of the position
  • A clear description of the position along with general areas of responsibility
  • Listing the essential functions of the job
  • Required education and/or vocational experience
  • Knowledge, skills, talents, and/or abilities that are required
  • A portrayal of your work environment
  • When applicable, name the physical demands that are connected to the position


Things change and evolve.  For a variety of reasons the job descriptions that we create need to be adapted.  Make sure you are reviewing all job descriptions periodically.  Ensure they are reflecting the expectations you have about the position and the employees that fulfill them.