Job descriptions are helpful tools on both sides of the work relationship. They help managers set clear expectations of employees, and they help employees know their scope of work and other important details such as their salary ranges. Job descriptions also offer legal protection whenever there's a disagreement about whether an employee's work is meeting expectations.
As the hiring manager, taking the time to create a thorough job description is going to help you through the entire employee-seeking process. Spell out the duties you need the person to perform regularly as well as special project needs. You can use the qualifications and necessary job skills you listed to help you weed through the resumes.
After you've worked with your chosen employee for a while, the original job description helps you create benchmarks to use when evaluating that employee. Using the written job description when evaluating your employee helps protect you legally as well if she's not performing up to snuff. If you end up firing her, you likely have the backup you need to survive a lawsuit or unemployment hearing.
If you're the one beating the street and looking for a job, a detailed job description can be your best friend. It gives you an overall look at what your daily and long-term duties might be, as well as any staff you might be supervising and which department manager you would report to. Sometimes, it gives a salary range as well as travel requirements. The job description helps you tailor your cover letter and resume to point out exactly how well qualified you are.
A job description should be a fluid thing, so use it to your advantage when you're seeking advancement in your company. If you take on new responsibilities, ask that they be added to your job description so they can be included in your evaluation. Or, better yet, ask for a raise to compensate you for taking on the additional responsibilities. As your job description continues to grow and change, ask your boss to give you a title that better matches your increase in responsibility. You might not actually move up -- for example, you might report to the same person -- but a better title gives you a leg up when you're looking for a new job or asking for a raise at your current one.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.