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Job Descriptions HR TuneUp

"RRSP" for HR Professionals: 4 Steps to Revitalize Your Company's Job Descriptions

By Brian Crook on March, 30 2020
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Brian Crook

With most corporate jobs in North America now taking place in home offices, it puts HR personnel in an interesting situation. 

Unless your organization deals in one of a few spaces, there's probably not a lot of hiring going on right now. In fact, with everyone working from home, there's probably not a lot of personnel management activities going on, period. So it might be a great opportunity to take the initiative and complete some your company's housekeeping duties.

What we're hearing out there is that some HR teams are taking this as an opportunity to revisit the job of building, reviewing, or maintaining their job descriptions. While it's probably not the most rewarding task, it's very important that all employees have a understanding of their role, and the foundation that your company culture and vision was built on.

So how should HR use this time to tackle their job descriptions? We suggest following an acronym that will be familiar for our Canadian readers: R.R.S.P.:

  • Review
  • Revamp
  • Seek Feedback
  • Push them out & promote.

Step 1: Review

It's time to take stock of your existing job descriptions and see what needs to be done. Here are a few basic questions to consider when determining the quality and effectiveness of your job description process.

  • Do all positions have job descriptions?
  • Are they consistently written across your organization?
  • How old are they, and when were they last updated?
  • Do you have a regular process to ensure that they reflect the latest job requirements?
  • Do you have tools in place to help you manage your job descriptions over time?

Step 2: Revamp

It's time to get to work on rebuilding, re-imagining and revamping your company's job descriptions.

Here are 3 ideas to consider as you start the process. For more ideas, check out our post on writing effective job descriptions:

1. Consider the necessary level of detail. A job description is not a job post that you throw on to an Internet job board; instead, It serves as the official record of the job requirements. The more detail that your job description contains about the requirements of the job, the more valid they become as a record to refer back to. Decide what makes sense for your organization, taking into account your unique operational, management and compliance needs.

2. Should you upgrade your company's job descriptions by incorporating competencies into them? Competencies provide the solid foundation to turn your job descriptions into talent management tools and extend their use beyond the hiring process. They can also provide the foundation for your behavioral interviews, employee assessment and development programs, and can even be used for visual career path programs for employees. 

3. Create consistency with standardized job descriptions across departments and the organization. If you're starting the revamp process, it's a great time to revisit some important decisions. For example, should the job summary reflect the company brand, or should a new section be brought in? Do you want a section on knowledge, or skills & abilities... or both? Using a consistent format in your job descriptions requires a little bit more work up front (to determine what said format should be), but it has major benefits in allowing you to revamp your job descriptions at any kind of scale.

Psst... Want to improve your job description process? 

Grab our free Job Description Toolkit today for more valuable tips and ideas:

Step 3: Seek Feedback

Making sure that other stakeholders get their eyes on your job descriptions is an accepted best practice of modern HR. Collaboration on job descriptions can foster a number of benefits: improved quality/accuracy, increased learning between departments, and improved efficiency in pushing a job description along. 

As mentioned here in our recent post on job description collaboration:

When building a quality job description, collaboration can go beyond the HR department and reach those professionals who know the job best.

Are you confident in the quality of your company’s job descriptions? Would you be proud to showcase your job descriptions to another HR professional?

If you are even a little bit unsure, it might be worth it to create collaborative job descriptions by working with the right person in your organization.

It could save you time, stress and help deliver the best job descriptions possible for your next hire.

Tools like HRSG's CompetencyCore make seeking feedback on your job descriptions easier than ever. Here's a quick idea of what that looks like.


Step 4: Push out & promote

With your new and improved job descriptions in place, it's time to push them out within your organization.

Here are a few ideas to keep the momentum going forward after you launch your new job descriptions.
  • Promote them internally if you've put some work into giving your organization an improved structure, make sure that people know about it. Not only do you want your work recognized, but you want to get organizational buy-in on their importance over time.
    Some clients run a campaign to get employee sign-off on their job descriptions, which naturally creates awareness of the project. You could also send out a quick slide deck, or host a lunch and learn, illustrating some of the differences between the old job descriptions and the new ones... and most importantly, the benefits that these revamped job descriptions will have over time.

  • Set out a schedule for reviewing the job descriptions. A lot of jobs change from year to year, some even more frequently than that.  So it might be a good idea to set out a regular schedule of reviewing the descriptions with the appropriate departmental managers. For example, your company's IT jobs might require a yearly review to keep up with technological changes, whereas your sales department might only require a review every few years. Setting out the cadence of job description checkpoints helps create and ensure accountability on both sides of the table.

Get Started Today!

Whatever the state of your job descriptions, it might be the time to get them in tip-top shape for when we push past this epidemic. As the world returns to normalcy, you want to be ready to hire, retain, and push top talent... and your job descriptions are a foundational element of all of that.

Check out our job description toolkit to keep your learning journey going!


Learn More About Job Descriptions: 

Post last updated: January 6, 2021