During the typical interview, a job description gives the candidate the parameters that help her better understand the organization's expectations. Also, it enables a comparison of her qualifications to the job requirements. But a job summary has an entirely different purpose. Job summaries may be used to compile an overall description of the company or provide historical information about the company and its growth. Or, it can give prospective candidates who are interested in just informational interviews to learn more about future career opportunities.
The Job's Purpose
Although some job descriptions include the ultimate reason the job exists, summarizing a job should include the purpose of the job. For example, an information technology job in a multinational company might exist to bridge the organization's global marketing efforts or to maintain an overall worldwide presence and connectivity among staffers. A short paragraph about the job and its purpose is an ideal way to start a job summary. For example, you could write, "The general manager position was created in 2010 when the Acme Company expanded from a 25-employee, single-location operation to a 100-employee company with three separate offices throughout Iowa."
A job summary provides an overview, including the relationships the incumbent has with other staff and leaders. For a general manager's job, the overview could state, "The general manager is responsible for centralized oversight of Acme Company's three locations. The general manager reports directly to the company's vice president and has a dotted line reporting relationship to the company's president and CEO. Secretarial and support staff -- office assistants, clerks and receptionists -- report to the general manager. The general manager handles employment issues and works closely with the company's human resources director on workplace matters for all three locations." Use gender-combined or gender-neutral pronouns when you write a job summary or a job description.
Abbreviated Job Description
Avoid listing every duty or responsibility for the job -- that's the purpose of a job description, not a job summary. Summarize the primary duties of the job. A registered nurse's job summary, for instance, would include communicating with patients, physicians and staff about direct patient care; training entry-level registered nurses on hospital procedures and standard of care practices; and managing patient information, medical records and privacy regulations. A job summary can, however, serve as an overview of a job description.
Summarize the job, not the incumbent's qualifications or incidental duties that the incumbent handles, because you're not writing a bio for the person who currently holds the job. Nor are you summarizing the job for an advertisement or to appeal to a candidate you believe is ideal for the role. State the basic qualifications necessary to perform the job duties. For example, for an accounting firm, the minimum qualifications would be a four-year degree and credentials as a certified public accountant, if the firm requires that all of its accountants are CPAs.
Naturally, a job description wouldn't include the job's intended place on a succession track. But a summary might suggest what the next steps are for the job. Again, an accountant role could develop into a senior accountant position, then practice group lead or chair. Likewise, the career path for a registered nurse's job might be charge nurse, followed by assistant director of nursing and, finally, director of nursing. For the summary, this shouldn't be the exact career progression, but it might be included as an explanation of the direction someone's career could go over the course of several years.
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