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Write Effective Job Descriptions

Improve hiring effectiveness, bolster performance management, and ease compensation planning with robust job descriptions.


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  • Roger Plachy, HR Consultant, Job Results Management Institute
  • Sandy Plachy, HR Consultant, Job Results Management Institute
  • Hector Deault, Compensation Specialist, HR Services, Corporate Services, The Regional Municipality of York
  • Anita Orozco, HR Generalist, Sonneborn

Your Challenge

  • Job descriptions are the foundation of a variety of HR initiatives, from recruitment to workforce planning. They also drive job clarity for employees, resulting in greater employee engagement, performance commitment, and intent to stay.
  • In addition to supporting HR initiatives and providing job clarity, job descriptions act as proof of legal compliance (or non-compliance) in labor law cases.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • The importance of job descriptions is frequently minimized or overlooked; they are seen as a “necessary evil” and pushed behind the “important” tasks. This second-class status has resulted in an ad hoc approach to the design and maintenance of job descriptions, and inconsistency is commonplace.
  • Job clarity is rare for those employees with out-of-date or ad hoc job descriptions, often causing a reduction in engagement and commitment. Furthermore, inaccuracy in individual job descriptions creates an inability to make accurate job comparisons, which are necessary for a variety of crucial HR initiatives, including compensation decision-making.

Impact and Result

  • A structured approach to job description design and maintenance is crucial to optimal business operation. This requires that a job description template is designed, guidelines are set, and training for both managers and HR staff is provided. In addition to driving effectiveness, this will streamline the job description creation process and maximize efficiency.
  • To further maximize the effectiveness of job descriptions for all HR areas, the job description template can be designed to include competencies the organization has developed: core, function-specific, and/or leadership competencies.

Research & Tools

1. Make the case for job description diligence

Gain an organizational commitment to creating and maintaining comprehensive job descriptions.

2. Prepare to write job descriptions

Get the right people and information in place to drive optimal job description design and maintenance.

3. Populate individual job descriptions

Create a consistent, defensible approach to job description design.

4. Promote and maintain job descriptions

Ensure ongoing job description success with a commitment to tracking and maintenance.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a two call advisory process.

Call #1 - Make the case and prepare to write job descriptions

During this GI call, we will discuss:

The benefits of up-to-date and comprehensive job descriptions for employees, managers, Human Resources, and the organization as a whole.

How to select success measures and establish baselines, whom to select for the project team tasked with crafting job descriptions, how to decide whether or not competencies should be included, how to ensure compliance with applicable legislation, and planning for effective storage and retention.

Call #2 - Populate individual job descriptions and plan for ongoing success

During this GI call, we will discuss:

How to select and gather internal and/or external job information; customization of the job description template; and how to design effective administration guidelines.

Creating a communication plan; training managers on the importance of job descriptions and how to draft compliant job descriptions; and setting rules around job description review.

Onsite Workshop

Discuss This Workshop

Book Your Workshop

Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Make the Case & Prepare to Write Job Descriptions

The Purpose

  • Make the case for a standard approach to job description creation and maintenance.
  • Enable measurement of job description project success.
  • Create a template for use in the creation of all job descriptions.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Gathered data to measure job description program success.
  • Created a project team and customized the job description templates.
  • Clarified the role of job descriptions in complying with labor laws.




Determine data points to track project success.

  • Plan measures for use in the Metric Tracking Tool.

Create a project team for the crafting of job descriptions.

  • Set the project team for job description completion.

Determine if you need competencies in your job descriptions.

  • Begin to customize the Job Description Template.

Make a plan for job description storage and retention.

  • Document your approach to job description storage and retention.

Module 2: Populate Individual Job Descriptions

The Purpose

  • Gather internal and/or external job information.
  • Review and customize the job description template.
  • Establish administration guidelines.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Gathered job information to assist your creation of individual job descriptions.
  • Gained advice for completing all the fields of the job description.
  • Drafted a process for completing job descriptions.




Determine the internal and external data that will be used to gather job information.

  • Prioritize job information sources.

Review the job description template and gain tips for effectively completing them.

  • Complete customization of the Job Description Template.

Customize and finalize your job description template.


Establish manager process guidelines.

  • Write manager process guidelines including: responsibility, approval process, governing laws and regulations; and planned activities and milestones.

Module 3: Plan for Ongoing Success

The Purpose

  • Design a communication plan.
  • Create and customize manager training material.
  • Set rules around job description review.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Determined and outlined any necessary job description training and communication.
  • Identified a timeline and key triggers for job description review.




Create and customize manager training material on effectively completing job descriptions.

  • Training Deck: Train Managers to Write Effective Job Descriptions

Identify changes in PESTL environmental factors that could impact job descriptions.

  • Create a timeline for job description reviews and refreshes.

Search Code: 74686
Published: April 21, 2014
Last Revised: October 9, 2014