A job description helps employees understand how they will spend their time at work. It is also a tool employers use to measure and evaluate their employees’ performance. They can be used to figure out awards like bonuses and salary increases too.
A lot of us might have seen a job description and thought ‘I can do that’, even if we don’t have the experience or qualifications. We send in our resumes but never hear back. This is why companies are honing their job descriptions so they exactly match the job.
A job description – what it tells you
You need to understand the who, what, where and when of the job description.
Who: you should know something about this company. Are they reputable, have they been in business long and would this kind of work suit you?
What: the duties, responsibilities, qualifications and pay, hours and shifts they are asking for. At what level in the company will you be working: admin, mechanical or management?
Where: is the company close to your place or within driving distance.
When: how soon is the application deadline and when would you start work?
If you are reading through a position description and realize you don’t know what some of it means then you should move on. You clearly don’t have the qualifications or experience for this particular job, so don’t waste your time. Even a badly written job description should have enough information for an experienced person to understand. Some job descriptions are very brief like the ones you see in newspapers.
In this case, you could call the advertiser’s HR department and ask for a full description. This will be an important call. If you know the job fits you, then the conversation will give you pointers to use in your resume and cover letter. This is recommended for every job you apply for.
Job specifications may ask for certain certifications, licenses or training in a specialized area. If you are unemployed, this may be a good opportunity for you to get extra qualifications. Call your local job service and see if they can help pay for the classes. Check out your local community college and see what they have to offer. Courses range from computer training, medical transcription and even truck driving. These types of jobs are in big demand right now.
Search for job descriptions that match your work experience. You could even create your own job description about you and your experience. This will give you a better understanding of what you should be looking for in a job search. Ultimately it will also help when you do find that job.
You can use the 60% rule, which means if you have sixty percent of the experience asked for, then you should apply for the job. All you need is a bit of luck and a ton of determination to find the job that fits you.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Many workers, as well as new graduates, will hop into jobs without even understanding their job descriptions. This is quite understandable as they do not have much experience in the workforce. Many new graduates are just happy to have been offered a job and will avoid questioning differences between the work they do and the job description, or even whether a job description exists. They may believe asking for a job description will make a negative impression.
This could not be more wrong, because generally employers appreciate employees who ask about their job description. This shows the employee is interested in understanding his or her job fully and would like to be clear about the specific responsibilities. Here are some reasons why job descriptions are important for employees and people looking for work.
1. Stick to your duties and responsibilities
A job description contains a list of your roles and functions. While it itemizes the work you are expected to do, it also shows what you are not supposed to do. Guessing is never an option, even if you think you are giving your best by going the extra mile. Any appraisal of your work will indicate that you are not doing your job. Plus you will not be credited with whatever you are doing that is not in the job description.
2. Don’t be taken advantage of
There may be times, if you are a newbie in a company, when you will be asked to do something that is not in your job description. It is completely within your rights to point to your job description and say, politely, that these responsibilities or duties are not yours. Of course, if you have done your work you might want to help other people out by helping with theirs. Still, make it clear that what you are doing is not in your job description. You and your manager may choose to decide whether these duties should be included in your job and whether you should be paid for them.
3. DIY progress report
In the workplace employees sometimes complain that they did their best, worked overtime and gave their all, but did not receive the acknowledgment from their employers. Unfortunately, some employers are too busy to keep track of everyone’s performance. You may need to submit reports regarding your progress and performance. This, of course, should be closely based on your job description – outline each of the duties and responsibilities and explain how you have done each of them well. Sometimes writing things down makes it more official.
Job descriptions are an important tool for employers and employees. They define boundaries and responsibilities, so no one steps on anyone else’s toes.
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