How to write an effective Job Description and Role Profile

26 01 2010

So, you know you have a space in your office, you have some tasks that want doing and you even have a little spare cash to pay someone too… but, how do you write an effective job description?  One that really gets to the heart of what you need?

Before any job is recruited for or advertised it is essential to identify what exactly your need is, what skills and behaviours are required for a person to be successful in the role, and to establish what you can afford.  From there, you can then produce or update your job description and role profile.

Is there a need?

Recruitment can be a costly activity; therefore it is essential that you ensure that you are channelling this activity effectively and not over-resourcing.   This can be established by asking some basic questions;

  • Has the need arisen by someone leaving?
  • Has the role changed? Has it been influenced by new products, services or changes in technology?
  • Have work patterns changed?
  • Has an exit interview been conducted? This could highlight important points about the potential vacancy.
  • Could the role be broken down and key tasks distributed among the team?
  • Is it a new role?
  • Does it fit in with budget?
  • Will it be cost-effective? Do the benefits justify the expense?
  • Should it be full-time, part-time or contract?
  • Could the work be distributed among the current team? Can individuals be trained? Could technology make an impact? Could shift patterns be altered?

Once you have established that there is a specific need for a new recruit, the next stage is to update the current Role Profile and/or produce a new one if necessary.

Role Profiles/Job Description?

The term “Role Profile” is a blend of both a Job Description and a Person Specification or outline of the type of person who would fit the role.  Role Profiles are simple documents which demonstrate clearly the relationship between specific activities/tasks and the personal attributes required to undertake them.  In short it describes a job, and the personal qualities required to do that job well.  The job is usually described in terms of the purpose, responsibilities and key deliverables of the job, and the personal qualities required are described in terms of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that are necessary to perform the job well.  Role Profiles provide clarity (both to those doing the job and to managers) on what is expected from people doing the role. They focus people’s attention on the key factors required to deliver results.

They provide information that enables:

  • A much clearer understanding of what the role holder is being asked to do.
  • More effective appraisal, against a clear benchmark.
  • More effective recruitment, against clearly specified requirements linked to business objectives.
  • More effective development of people, focussing learning on the areas that will bring most business benefit.
  • More effective promotion and career development, where people can see what they need to do to fulfil a future role, and in turn the organisation can assess people’s capability more accurately.

Key benefits businesses gain from using Role Profiles as opposed to Job Descriptions include:

  • Increased effectiveness from jobholders who are more focussed on what success looks like in their role.
  • Reduced recruitment and retention costs, with people better matched to role requirements.
  • Reduced training and developments costs, with learning targeted on activities with defined business benefit.
  • More successful promotion decisions.
  • Fairer, simpler and more transparent grading structures

Producing Your Role Profile

If you need to produce a Role Profile, it should be clear, concise and include the following:

Job Description
Job title A named role and location. The job title should communicate the function and status of the job.
Reporting line The person to whom the individual will be reporting. It is important that this is clarified particularly where there may be more than one reporting line for different issues.
Job purpose A simple statement to identify clearly the objective of the job.
Key accountabilities This details what actually needs to be done. The duties and expected outcomes.
Knowledge/experience/skills This section is used to identify the overall expertise needed to perform the job to the required standards for example: Knowledge of specific procedures (e.g. computer systems and software for an IT programmer) Experience in working with Microsoft packages The skills to apply computer knowledge, skills to work as part of a team
Person Specification
Qualifications Academic/vocational/professional.  Outline the minimum requirement for the jobholder and what is ideal.
Work Experience The amount of experience in a specific environment at a specific level
Knowledge Specific background/essential knowledge needed to do the job i.e. working practices
Skills/Abilities Skills and abilities required that are specific to the role i.e. numerical/verbal/communication   It is recommended to identify a minimum level of skill and also a maximum level of skill to indicate development
Personality/Motivation What motivates the candidate is the role likely to restrict someone who enjoys working with people if it is one which has limited contact with others.
Circumstances Availability/mobility i.e. is the candidate able to work the hours required, or can they travel to the work location.
Competencies/Behaviours A description of which core competencies are required for the job

It is also useful to identify:

  • Your essential criteria (skills, experience, attributes) which must be available to undertake the job
  • Your desirable criteria (other abilities, attributes, further experience), that would enhance the quality of the candidates.

This will give you an outline your ‘ideal’ candidate for the vacancy which will enable you to evidence a fair and consistent recruitment process through the shortlisting phase of your recruitment.

It goes without saying that the effectiveness of your JD or Role Profile can only really be measured by what you do with it next, and  how you engage with potential candidates, shortlist and select them through to hiring them.  Good Luck!

The above excerpt is taken from a module of Creative Leadership’s Recruitment Training Programme for managers. For further information please email us at info@Creative-Leadership.co.uk or call 01202 853647.

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14 responses

26 01 2010
9bryony

Great advice Michelle, I like the detail, and the questions you should be asking before you write the JD; just what I need for a client this week…

26 01 2010
michellefischer

Thanks Steve, You might want to take a look at the expanded version of this article on the Creative Leadership website. There’s a template there that might prove useful:

http://www.creative-leadership.co.uk/downloads/How%20to%20write%20a%20Job%20Description%20and%20Role%20Profile.pdf

27 01 2010
Tweets that mention How to write an effective Job Description and Role Profile « Talent Management Matters -- Topsy.com

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michelle Fischer, Michelle Fischer. Michelle Fischer said: How to write an effective Job Description and Role Profile: http://wp.me/pvJhE-93 […]

2 08 2010
Oanh

Thank you.
It really helps me on understanding what’s difference btn JD and RP that sometime confuses me.
Have a great day, Michelle
Oanh

21 05 2011
Khaled Saleh

Thanks, and have a nicw day

29 01 2013
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Thanks for sharing. However, I think the detail in person specification section could be included as a part of JD. So, It is still confused here.

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