I’ve seen a job description that was seven pages long listing every task, responsibility, and qualification and then on the other end I’ve worked with organizations that didn’t have job descriptions, both can be a mistake.
A job description should be one page or two at the most. When a job description covers too much, it diminishes every point. The best way to build an effective job description is to simplify it. List the priorities not the minutia of the position.
A startup might be able to manage just fine without a job description, but as a company grows it becomes more and more important to document procedures, and a job description is one of those documents. A five employee startup might not need a job description for each employee; heck starting out it might even get in the way as responsibilities evolve. However, a 100 employee small business shouldn’t rely on everyone knowing their job without documentation.
Here’s a one-page job description template. I’ve used Sales Manager as the mock position.
One Page Job Description
Share a brief general description – For example, here’s a simple Sales Manager Description,
Recruit, hire, and train to build a team that consistently reaches and surpasses sales quotas while adhering to company policies and ethics.
Avoid industry jargon by using common language.
Instead of, Blocks and Issues Leads – Checks that all leads meet company standards and qualifications. Assigns leads to sales representatives.
Instead of, Checks in sales reps—Reviews previous day’s activities with each sales representative individually monitoring procedures, while looking for teachable moments, and reinforcing positive behavior through recognition of a job well done.
Use action verbs whenever possible such as review, check, organize, achieve, focus, and develop. Harvard Law Action Verb List
You could also create a more generalized, less specific, list of responsibilities.
The Sales Manager will be responsible for the following:
- Hitting TSQ (Targeted Sales Quota).
- Policing company policies and procedures.
- Managing the sales team.
- Working with other departments toward a common goal.
- Adhering to company ethics.
- Continuous training of the sales staff.
- Following up on all paperwork including bank rejects and customer cancellations.
There are two critical points to consider before listing job qualifications.
- What are the required qualifications? In the case of a Sales Manager would it include sales experience, management acumen, and product knowledge?
- What are you willing to train? Such as, what if a candidate has extensive sales management experience but not with your product or another has a solid track record with product sales but little or no management experience? Would you be willing and have time to train what either candidate lacks if they were a cultural fit and of good character?
Hopefully, this is a moot point, and you’ll find someone of good character that meets all of the qualifications, but keep in mind—character first. We’ve all worked with a green recruit of good character who became a valued employee, and we’ve all worked with an experienced toxic employee who made poor character choices and disrupted out teams.
It’s important to share potential pitfalls of the job up front. For example, if the Sales Manager position involves evening hours, weekend work, miles on personal vehicle, etc. share it in the job description and the first interview. You’ll find most candidates will appreciate your transparency, because they’ve seldom seen it in an interview, and they’ll respect you and the company for it. Secondly, you’ll eliminate candidates that aren’t a good fit. Why wait until they’re one month into the job to find out they don’t want to work evenings?
Who they manage, who are their partners and peers, and who do they report to.
Keep it Simple
There you have it, a one-page simple job description that prioritizes activities and responsibilities and at the same time adds direction to the position. Does your organization use job descriptions or are they outdated collecting dust in someone’s bottom drawer?
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