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Staffing Issues & Insights for the Graphic Communications Industry.
Making Every Hire Count: Maximizing Your Human Capital Investment
Quality of Hire Begins With Sourcing: Pick Your Method to Suit Your Needs
Getting a grip on mission-critical "soft" skills: 5 simple steps
Forget Doing "More with Less" Older Workers Help Companies Accomplish "More with More"
For Expanding Your Value-Added Services Profitably, Hiring Is Rocket Science
Assessing job candidates beyond the technical skills
Employer Branding: The solution to attracting & keeping great staff
Successioning Your Business: Five Simple Steps that Aren't Exactly Easy
The 20-60-20 Rule: Simple Concept, Practical Applications, Profitable Results
Universal Employment Concerns: Creating Opportunity Out of Adversity
Hanging Flexible in Tough Times
Value-Driven Outsourcing
Downsizing: Don't Retreat - Motivate!
Navigating Today's Hiring Minefield: Who Is Available & Do You Really Want Them?
Today's Financial Storm Inspires Tomorrow's Long-Term Success
The case for HR: Why & how you should implement formal policies & procedures
Staffing for success in a soft market
The Challenge of Hiring Sales People
Workforce Optimization
Evolving Your Company into a Service-Oriented Business
Redefining Sales
Staffing for the Future of Print
Communicating With Employees From Start To Finish
Eight Steps to Prepare You for the Retirement Brain Drain
Job Hopping for the Right Reasons
Resumés are just the Tip of the Iceberg
How Some Hires Fail
Hire Like You Mean It
Concluding Your Hiring Workflow: Closing the Deal
A Hiring "To Do" List
Challenging Employee Excellence to Achieve Company Pre-eminence
Aim for the Top: Getting Value for Compensation Dollars
The Productivity Challenge
The Dynamics of Telephone Interviews
How People Enable "Enablers"
The People Side of Succession Planning
Tips for Effective Interviewing
Corporate Culture: What It Is, Who It's for, Why It Matters
What's In a Name?
Investment in Regulatory Managers is Money Well Returned
Flexibility in HR Management Reaps Rewards
People Drive Technology
Return on Experience
The Credible Resume
Leadership Delivers
Managing Employee Skills & Knowledge
Managing Employee Success
Profit by being a good employer
Achieve Employee Excellence with Effective Job Descriptions
Maximize your Human Capital Investment
Demystifying Job Descriptions
Benefits of Outsourcing
Surviving The Management Paradigm Shift
Invest in the Best


Demystifying Job Descriptions

Although creating and maintaining job descriptions are sizable undertakings, most employers recognize the end result is indispensable in helping staff understand their job responsibilities. After all, without a job description, how can an employee properly commit to, or be held accountable for, a position?

But the usefulness of job descriptions doesn't end there. In fact, they are such important tools that management pundits call them "essential building blocks," not just for human resources departments but the effective functioning of the entire organization. Their huge contributions to improving a business include:

  • Show how an employee's work contributes to the overall goals of the business

  • Aid communication and feedback between a job incumbent and his or her supervisor

  • Reduce subjective interpretation of job requirements

  • Clarify training, motivation, and coaching needs

  • Expedite recruitment, hiring, promoting, development of salary scales, performance appraisals, discipline, conflict resolution, succession planning and firing (by giving the employer an objective basis for measurement and decisions)

  • Provide systematic tools to survey a company's organizational structure and work flow and ensure all necessary activities are covered by one job or another

  • Help a company decipher its outsourcing requirements
Writing job descriptions

A typical job description takes one to three pages and provides a careful analysis of the important facts about a job. Its essential ingredients are:
  • Job Title

  • Department - E.g.: "Sales"

  • Reporting Structure - Identifies the supervisory position to whom the employee reports and the subordinates who will report to him or her directly. Relevant indirect reporting structures are sometimes also included.

  • Position Summary - Includes why the position exists, its main purpose, objective, function, responsibilities, and scope.

  • Minimum Education &/or Specific Work Experience Required - E.g.: "Postsecondary diploma or combination of education, training, and experience" or "Minimum 5 years' experience managing estimators, customer service representatives, and production co-ordinators in a sheetfed printing environment."

  • Minimum Key Skills, Knowledge, and Competencies - PrintLink's Managing Director Myrna Penny calls these "the skills they need to walk in the door with." E.g.: "Ability to lead teams with a broad range of skills and backgrounds" or "Print sales experience is desirable but not required."

  • Essential Job Functions - An itemized list of the principal tasks that are critical to job success. Often these are represented by a key verb followed by a measurable or observable end result and/or the main way(s) it is accomplished. E.g.: "Identify qualified candidates for job openings by screening applicants."

    As a benchmark, some HR consultants recommend including each duty comprising at least 5% of the incumbent's time. Still others say that limiting the list to around 8 to 12 tasks is ideal, although smaller organizations whose staff cover a broader range of duties may list as many as 15. Most agree that job descriptions with more are too long and such detail belongs in a standard operating procedures manual.

    To avoid situations where employees only do what is defined on the job description, it is customary to add an extra line that reads: "Perform other tasks or duties as assigned."

  • Key Results / Deliverables - Indicates in general terms how the employee's success will be measured. E.g.: "Manage staff, pre-press tools, and resources to optimize the function's impact to press and finishing, delivered on time and within budget to ultimately meet or exceed customer expectations."

  • Contacts - Itemizes people with whom the incumbent will have most on-the-job contact, both internal and external and whether via face-to-face or phone communication.

  • Equipment / Machinery Utilized - Lists routinely used machinery, tools, and software.

  • Working Conditions - Details such factors as noise, exposure to weather or hazardous conditions, and any physical demands such as heavy lifting. Should also include work hours or such specialized requirements as handling confidential data.
Where to find help

For employers facing the daunting task of writing job descriptions, help is available. They can get connected to resources through membership-based industry associations like PIA/GATF, says Myrna. Additionally she advises, "One of the most effective ways to produce job descriptions is to get incumbents to write down what they do. They're the ones who know best. At PrintLink we see informative lists of essential job functions all the time in candidates' resumes. The same type of information can be easily compiled in the workplace via questionnaire and transposed onto a job-description form."

"Remember that job descriptions are works in progress and should never be considered final," says Myrna. "Due to everything from personal growth to organizational change to the evolution of new technologies, they should be reviewed at least once a year by both employee and supervisor."
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