Components of Effective Job Descriptions for Small Businesses

Components of Effective Job Descriptions for Small Businesses
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A job description is a detailed document that explains an employees' duties and responsibilities as well as the employer's obligations to the employee. While it might sound to some like yet another piece of unnecessary paperwork, I beg to differ. In fact, if you haven't created job descriptions for your employees, I encourage you to do so right away. Clear, specific job descriptions can help make the hiring process, employee training, employee reviews, and other facets of staff management much easier. Here are the components of effective job descriptions for small businesses.

Why Do Job Descriptions Matter?

The moment I realize I need to add another employee or contractor, I start drafting a job description. Why? It keeps the company focused on the talent we need. Sometimes we receive hundreds of applications from both qualified and under-qualified job applicants. If no one develops a must have or ideal skill list, we could hire the wrong person.

Worse, it cost money training and onboarding new staff members, which means that we've invested money that won't give a decent return on investment. That's no way to run a business.

Job descriptions matter because they:

  • Prevent entrepreneurs from making legal mistakes. For instance, if a certain job requires licenses or permits, that should be in the job description along with a requirement that the employees keep their credentials up to date. Furthermore, when businesses get threatened with lawsuits or other legal action based on hiring or firing decisions, job descriptions can help bolster your case.
  • Create a cohesive company culture. I want to work with people who share my goals, values, and beliefs. When we hire someone, he or she needs to have a congruent personality to fit in with the rest of my staff. Otherwise, we'll butt heads and rarely get anything done.
  • Determine what an employee needs to know. We often need to provide the employee with on-the-job training to supplement his or her education in some way. Job descriptions let me know all the skills require and what kind of employee training that will need to be part of the onboarding process.
  • Designate compensation. What does the employee need to earn for the job opening to remain competitive in my industry? Offering too little, could cause the company to miss out on the best talent. Offering too much, can cause a cash crisis or put my business at risk down the road.

What Should You Include in Job Descriptions?

Create a basic job description templates. You can always add or subtract certain sections, just like you could with a resume template, but it gives you a baseline for what you expect to include in each document.

Some of the most effective job descriptions include the following:


  • Where will they be expected to work?
  • What qualities, educational background or other pre-requisites does the employee need to have to qualified for this job?
  • Do I expect him or her to have a certain number of years of experience or a degree in a specific field?
  • Does the employee need reliable transportation?


  • Will the employee oversee a team or department?
  • What deliverables will he/she be expected to produce?
  • Does he or she need to meet any specific quotas?


  • What duties will the employee perform? Don't be afraid to get specific and granular here. More detail is better than less.

Pay and benefits:

  • How much is the base compensation?
  • What benefits (if any) will be offered?
  • And when will he or she become eligible for benefits?

Do You Need to Clarify Job Descriptions Further?

Job descriptions have several purposes, but the most important revolve around the employee. If someone doesn't understand his or her job expectations, how can that person satisfy the job requirements?

Creating job descriptions that aren’t just a task list, especially if you want the candidates to consider working with you a career move. Use language that makes your job sound integral to business operations. include clarifying thoughts and ideas. Always end with a broad statement, such as "Performs all additional duties as required by supervisor."

Job details often change, which means the job description must change. I recommend revising them during your annual employee review. Ask your employees if the job description seems congruent with their daily work or if the description needs to be revised or updated.

In the meantime, let's get social! You can follow me on Twitter to get more small business advice and to let me know how you're doing with your job descriptions. Have you created them yet? How are they working for you?

This article with originally published as: How to Develop an Effective Job Description on

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