Designing and Updating Job Descriptions

Job descriptions. They’re a pretty important piece of not only finding a good job for you, but for finding a good fit for your position. Mischaracterized job descriptions will eventually lead to both an unhappy employee and an unsatisfied employer. As businesses and technology evolve, so too does the nature of work. Jobs that, thirty years ago, functioned a certain way have adapted drastically to the changing environment of the industry. Keeping the job descriptions advertised to hire new employees up-to-date and in line with the reality of the employer’s expectations is critical to finding good fits, both for employer and employee.

My own experience with job descriptions is limited. Most of the jobs I’ve had have been clerical in nature, with job descriptions that are a bit vague, which has resulted in additional duties that were not really specified becoming mine to deal with. Often, they’re nothing too horrible or something I felt I couldn’t or shouldn’t be responsible for, but in plenty of instances, my job satisfaction was much lower because this was not quite what I had signed up for.

And that’s why detailed and up-to-date job descriptions are so important. Kathryn Tyler writes that “a great opportunity to update [job descriptions] is when you are hiring for a position,” or timing the rewriting of the documents “’to coincide with the performance review process,” (Tyler, 2013).

In my experience, being as explicitly clear as possible with your expectations for someone in a position you’ve hired them for is one of the best ways to bolster their performance in that position. So often, we tend to argue that something “isn’t my job” because it’s not listed in the position description, or because you never had to do it before. Making it very clear from the get-go exactly what you expect from your employees will go a long way in obtaining those results.


Tyler, K. (2013, January 1). Job worth doing: Update descriptions. SHRM.

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  2. You raised very good points about the importance of updating job descriptions (as technology changes or the situations) and their influence on employer’s and employee’s success within the organization. I definitely think that companies need to be clear about the job positions that they are offering but also if issues arise during someone’s employment they should make sure to communicate well with HR, management, and employees in order to solve the problem and make changes required. My personal experience is similar to yours because I am a basketball player and sometimes things that we do just depend on the situation on the court, nobody can tell us what will happen in the game exactly, and as a student-athlete practice, school, and games are not the only things related to it. However, my experience seems to be more fulfilling due to this extra curriculum and activities that I did not know I would need to do, but now I am doing. (I know that being a student-athlete is not a “real job” but timewise it definitely feels like one :))

  3. I definitely understand having tasks be assigned that are outside of your typical job description; from my perspective and experience, a lot of these type of tasks that are ignored in job descriptions tend to be those that are essential but small enough that they do not seem important enough to include. Things like cleaning an area or space, taking trash out, replacing printer ink/paper, etc. are al tasks that are essential, and potentially another persons job, like a custodian or IT person, but reduce the strain on those roles as well as boost the effectiveness of the areas that others are working in.

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