How Do IT Leaders Write A Good Job Description?

by drjim on November 11, 2010

Before you can hire someone, you need to describe the job

Before you can hire someone, you need to describe the job

How would you like to end up spending the next year in court and costing your company many millions of dollars? Not a good way to manage your IT Leader career, eh? Too many of us risk doing this whenever we try to fill an IT position without first clearly defining what the job is…

Just Exactly What Is A Job Description?

A job description is exactly what it sounds like – a description of an IT job that you are trying to fill. The reasons that you create one are many and varied.

The primary reason for creating a job description is simply because although you know what you are looking for in a job candidate, the team of people who will actually help you find that person do not know. The other reason that creating a job description is so important is that should it become necessary to fire someone, a good job description is the key to protecting yourself from a lawsuit.

In most companies you won’t be alone when you go to develop a job description. Your HR or legal departments probably already have a template for you to use. Just in case they don’t (or if it is incomplete), here’s what every job description should contain:

 

  • Title of the job, what business unit it will be part of, and the name of the part of the company that it will belong to

 

 

  • Responsibilities and assignments associated with the job

 

 

  • Who the hiring manager is and which manager the job reports to (they are not always the same)

 

 

  • A more detailed description of what the person who has the job will need to do including tasks, responsibilities, and perhaps even objectives for the job.

 

 

  • How much they will be paid, where they need to perform the work, and what hours you expect them to work.

 

 

  • What background is required to do the work such as college education, or previous work experience.

 

 

  • Any personal characteristics that may be required (outgoing personality, good with people, etc.)

 

The Process Of Creating A Job Description

Sometimes we find ourselves in the position of creating a job description for a job that already exists – the person has just left. In these cases, you should not feel constrained by what the job was in the past when you are creating the job description. Instead, write the job description for what you want the next person to do for you – what the job should be going forward.

As you are writing the job description, you are going to have to be very careful about detailing the differences between what a candidate brings to the job. We all have different types of job knowledge, sets of skills, and personal abilities. Each job requires a unique set of these and when you are creating the job description you’ll have to lay out what you are looking for.

Keep in mind that you are defining what you need to have the person that you hire do for you. If for some reason it turns out that they can’t do the job, you are going to have to let them go. These situations can get out of hand quickly (and become expensive). In order to protect yourself and your company, make sure that the job description has enough detail so that you can clearly make a case if someone doesn’t live up to your expectations.

Finally, a clearly written job description will keep you on the right side of the law. No matter what country you are in, having a job description that clearly states what you are looking for in a candidate will protect you from lawsuits from those whom you end up not hiring.

What All Of This Means For You

IT Leaders like to spend their time leading, charting new paths for their IT teams. Writing a job description may not seem like the best use of your time; however, it turns out that it is a crucial task to do and to do well.

When creating a job description, it’s important to make sure that it contains at least the important pieces of information that we’ve detailed here. Additionally, you’ll need to make sure to determine what skills are needed, what grounds for dismissal would be, and to be sure that you’ve covered all of the legal bases.

I’m not a lawyer and so you should be sure to talk to a lawyer when creating a job description. When you take the time to do this correctly, then you will have created a powerful document that will ensure that you get the right person for the job…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think a job description should be? How long is too long?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Congratulations – you’re an IT leader. Now go hire someone. Wait a minute, did anyone ever take the time to tell you just exactly how you should go about hiring staff? I mean, you’ve been on the other side of the table when you were looking for a job, but what are you supposed to do differently when you are the one doing the hiring?

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