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Disadvantages of Job Descriptions

by Nicole Vulcan, studioD

When you're hiring to fill a new position, the first thing you may do is create a job description to give the new hire an idea of your expectations. While this is pretty standard and may seem without controversy, the fact is that creating a job description can lead to misconceptions and excess work for employees and employers. Before you choose to create formal job descriptions, review the potential disadvantages.

Time Commitment

Decide whether the job description is worth the time it takes to create. Determining the duties of a job may require researching the operations of an entire department and getting input from managers. Rounds of reviews may follow before a final description is written. In a company that lacks human resource professionals to create job descriptions, an employee must take time away from regular duties to do so.


If you've ever heard the phrase "it's not my job" thrown around your workplace, then you may understand another potential issue with detailed job descriptions. Some employees may consider a job description to be the definitive documentation of what they are expected to do -- and not do -- in the position. As a result, they may be unwilling to take on extra tasks or go the extra mile because "it's not in their job description." At the same time, a formal job description may limit an employer's view of an employee's capabilities, resulting in missed opportunities for promotions of and contributions from certain employees.

Too Much Detail

Potential job candidates can be negatively affected by job descriptions as well. A detailed job description that includes an exhaustive list of duties and responsibilities may overwhelm even the most qualified candidates. As a result, some may feel too intimidated to apply for the job, not realizing the amount of training and assistance they would receive to learn all the parts of the job.

Making Changes

Job descriptions take time and effort to maintain. When a key feature of a job changes, the job description must be updated. This requires more effort by managers to revise job descriptions as needed. This may make a case for a less-detailed job description. A vague description requires more initiative on the part of the employee to interpret its meaning -- and possibly less work on the part of the manager who has to update it.

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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