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How to Write a Results-Oriented Job Description

by Audra Bianca, studioD

Organizations that use numerical data to measure employee performance can benefit from writing results-oriented job descriptions. Each job description requires analyzing the work to be done and determining how much of an employee's time will be spent per duty. This information helps the human resources department with assigning a job title and appropriate level of compensation. It also helps the manager determine the minimum qualifications for the job.

Overanalyzing Duties

A job description should include all duties a person is expected to perform. List the duties that will be performed every day and the duties that are only performed once or twice a year. Making the description comprehensive is only fair to potential applicants and the person who finally gets the job. Otherwise, the new hire will have a different understanding of his job than his supervisor, which can produce tension between employee and supervisor. An employee may feel his boss' expectations are unfair because the job description is inaccurate.

Planning Ahead

Each duty in the first list of duties will later be grouped into a general category and assigned a percentage. For example, if an administrative assistant must answer phones, make photocopies and sort correspondence, all of these duties could be grouped together under a clerical category and assigned a percentage, such as 15 percent. This assistant might spend the remaining 85 percent of her time performing other duties, such as training workers, ordering and distributing supplies and attending high-level meetings on her boss' behalf.

Answering Questions

In describing duties, explain what must be done, why it must be done and how it will be done. Take general statements and turn them into specific actionable statements. For example, sorting mail might have a statement like this: "Processes information by reading incoming mail, obtaining background materials, highlighting important points, retrieving and attaching related documents, routing mail to concerned parties, drafting standard correspondence, filing documents." This example tells how a person will determine where to send mail within an organization and how to prepare it for quick review by intended recipients.

Being Specific

A person reading the job description will have a hard time understanding technical terms and acronyms that aren't spelled out. Write each actionable statement of a job duty to be easily understood by external applicants. For example, if a person must solve problems, the job description statement should offer a qualifying explanation that gives context. A statement might be similar to the following: "Solves problems by performing multiple cost-benefit analyses for each product considered in the research and development department." After organizing duty statements into categories and assigning them accurate percentages of total work to be performed, ask a colleague who knows the position to review them and suggest revisions and improvements. If you start with an old job description, you must remove duties that aren't required and add job duties that are now expected for the position.

About the Author

Audra Bianca has been writing professionally since 2007, with her work covering a variety of subjects and appearing on various websites. Her favorite audiences to write for are small-business owners and job searchers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Master of Public Administration from a Florida public university.

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