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What Role Do Job Descriptions Play in Job Training?

by Jan Simon, studioD

Job descriptions are multi-purpose documents, essential for providing both employees and managers clarity on the duties and key responsibilities assigned to a position. In addition to defining the specific tasks an employee is obligated to perform, a job description is valuable in the talent search. Upon reviewing resumes and screening candidates, HR staff can determine whether or not a potential employee possesses the adequate level of experience and training to perform the necessary job functions.

On-the-Job Training

Often when hiring for entry level positions, companies provide new hires with on-the-job training programs. The purpose is to instruct each trainee on how to reach optimum performance. Job descriptions often indicate the type of training required and define the level of performance necessary to pass the training course. For example, an entry level candidate working on a repair line in a manufacturing environment may be required to pass a soldering test after the in-house training course is completed. On-the-job training programs are also used when change is introduced to the workplace. In this case, an updated job description reflects the new task or duty assigned to the position. Subsequently the appropriate training is provided.

Performance Management

A job description is one of the tools used when a manager meets with an employee to discuss overall performance. Evaluations are based on how well a worker performs the duties and tasks assigned to the job evidenced by the job description. If an employee is not working at an acceptable level, the evaluation discussion may reveal that additional training is the solution. In this case, the manager and employee can agree on a performance improvement plan to assist the employee in successfully engaging with the job.


Various sections of the job description document are instrumental in positioning a job to the appropriate compensation level. Based on the duties and responsibilities, jobs are slotted into a salary structure. The job description helps define the compensable factors that match the position to market pricing. For example, in the "qualifications section" the description enumerates the level of education, experience and training required to successfully execute the responsibilities. Another section, typically labeled "required skills" spells out specific behaviors, skills and abilities necessary to perform the essential functions of a job.

Legal Defense

At times it is necessary to terminate an employee for unacceptable performance. Disgruntled former employees may opt to dispute the firing by filing a claim with the Department of Labor. An accurate job description is a viable tool employers can submit when discussing why it was necessary to terminate the employee. If it can be proven that the employee was provided with a copy of the job description along with ample opportunity for adequate training, the claim may be dismissed.

About the Author

Jan Simon is a career and life coach with more than 20 years of experience in corporate human resources. She holds a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University. Simon enjoys writing career articles and is a columnist for the CV Weekly. She also publishes a weekly blog called Life on the Sunny Side.

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