Home » Job Worth Doing: Update Descriptions

Job Worth Doing: Update Descriptions

Job Worth Doing: Update Descriptions
The basic job description is the foundation of nearly every HR function.
By Kathryn Tyler
January 1, 2013
Jill Bidwell, PHR, senior HR generalist at hydraulic manufacturer Sauer-Danfoss in Ames, Iowa, says her colleagues
jokingly call her “the queen of job descriptions.”
“I do have a passion for them,” she admits. “I preach to all our managers and HR sta that the job description is the
mother of all HR processes. Everything from recruitment and training to performance evaluations and
compensation all stems from that document. Once they understand all of the various facets of the employment life
cycle the job description touches, they take it a lot more seriously and put more thought into it. It’s not just a
compliance exercise.
“Ideally, what is put in the job description can create a job posting and performance goals. It walks into a development plan for training you
need. From a rewards perspective, it helps us benchmark other jobs,” Bidwell says. In the Ames facility, she supports 1,000 of the 6,500
employees Sauer-Danfoss employs globally.
Janet Flewelling, director of HR operations at Insperity, an HR service provider headquartered in Houston, agrees: “Job descriptions can
have so much value if used regularly and appropriately. If you have an up-to-date job description, you can use it for recruiting, performance
management and compensation.”
Despite the importance of job descriptions, very few HR professionals have a regular policy for updating them, says Michael R. Kannisto,
Ph.D., SPHR, director of talent management and acquisition at JLG Industries Inc. in Hagerstown, Md., and chair of a workgroup developing
a voluntary standard for job descriptions.
Updating descriptions is sometimes “the last thing on the list to tackle because there are so many other issues that require HR’s time and
attention,” says Cathy Maddox, SPHR, HR coordinator at Lincoln Surgical Hospital in Lincoln, Neb. But revising job descriptions “is very
important, especially when you are hiring people,” Maddox adds.
The Risks
Unfortunately, job descriptions often aren’t viewed as living documents. Once completed, they may be relegated to dusty three-ring
binders or long-unopened text documents. Experts say this is a mistake.
For example, “If you don’t keep it up-to-date and you have [an employment] claim against you, that nonupdated job description can do as
much damage as a good one could benet you. It can work to help in your defense or it can work to help the employee” ling the
grievance, Flewelling says.
Kannisto adds, “With the compliance environment and legal implications, the stakes are a lot higher for job descriptions to be crystal clear
with essential responsibilities. If you have a measure of performance that doesn’t appear on the job description and you have a case
brought against you, depending on the agency [involved], there could be punishment,” he explains.
We use cookies to improve your browsing experience on our website, and we use our own, as well as third-party cookies, to
display advertising for products and services we believe may be of interest to you. By closing the message or continuing to
browse this site, you agree to the use of cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy.
Legal implications aside, “you aren’t operating your business as eciently as possible” if you don’t keep job descriptions current, Kannisto
says. “Job descriptions help with workforce planning. You can see how talent ows through the organization and holistically how it all ts
“Having a bad job description is worse than [having] none at all,” asserts Tracy McCarthy, senior vice president of HR at SilkRoad, a talent
management organization headquartered in Chicago.
The Timing
How often should job descriptions be reviewed and updated? Once a year at a minimum, experts say. But circumstances might call for
more-frequent updates.
If nothing signicant happens throughout the year, “once a year, to coincide with the performance review process, is a great time to
update,” Flewelling advises.
That’s what happens at Sauer-Danfoss. “We have employee reviews on a calendar year. After we nish the reviews, we set goals and
objectives for the next review period. During that time, we update job descriptions,” Bidwell explains.
“If you are a growing or changing organization, it’s likely that you’ll have to do it more often,” McCarthy says. Because SilkRoad is “always
evolving,” for example, it updated descriptions about three times during 2011. A great opportunity to update is when you are hiring for a
position, Flewelling adds.
If there is a change to the job, do not wait until an annual review to make alterations. Updating job descriptions “should be an ongoing
process anytime something signicant changes,” says Lindsay A. Nienhuser Barton, SPHR, human resources director for industrial
explosives manufacturer Dyno Nobel Inc., in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Even if a job and an incumbent employee have not changed, or even if incremental changes have been made to the description annually,
HR professionals may still want to consider a complete job description overhaul every so often. When Kannisto and his task force went
through the process of creating HR job description standards, they explored job descriptions from the 1800s up to the present. He says it
became clear which ones were written in which decade.
“The element of the culture and the words you use are obvious a decade later,” Kannisto says. He compared it to watching a World War II
movie made in the 1960s: Even though the movie is about the 1940s, the lm quality, the colors, the hairstyles and other minor details date
the lm. If you read a job description for a longtime employee, it will sound dated if it has been ne-tuned only annually, he notes.
Everyone Has a Role
Creating and maintaining job descriptions should involve employees, managers and HR. Each person has a role, often with overlapping
Employees. “Obviously, the person performing the work has the best idea of the scope and size of the job,” Kannisto says.
“Employees can vouch for what they actually do and should have input into their descriptions,” McCarthy agrees. “However, the manager
must also be a part of this process to ensure that the responsibilities and requirements are aligned with actual activities.”
Managers. At Sauer-Danfoss, managers use a template to write or update job descriptions that are reviewed by HR, Bidwell says. The
manager is in charge of keeping descriptions up-to-date when someone leaves and as part of the performance management process. We use cookies to improve your browsing experience on our website, and we use our own, as well as third-party cookies, to
display advertising for products and services we believe may be of interest to you. By closing the message or continuing to
browse this site, you agree to the use of cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy.
At Lincoln Surgical Hospital, “HR would never assume that they know more about the position than the person who is actually doing the job
or managing the job. The manager is asked for his input. HR will then put the information into the standardized format and send that back
to the manager for his approval or input on further changes,” Maddox says.
HR professionals. “HR’s responsibility is to coach and facilitate the process of updating,” Barton says.
It’s only natural that HR “owns” job descriptions, Kannisto says, because “a job description touches so many pieces of the organization—
recruiting, succession planning, training, legal, compliance. HR is the only one who can be responsible for that.”
While HR professionals may not know the essential functions of every position, they are in a unique position to see how each job
description ts into the larger organization and the organization’s legal obligations.
For example, HR can “look for consistencies across departments to compare similar jobs to set up consistent wording and responsibility
levels,” Flewelling says. In addition, “HR is responsible for keeping [job descriptions] alive and using them during recruiting and
performance processes.” She notes that HR is also responsible for ensuring that job descriptions comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act
and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
At Sauer-Danfoss, “HR’s role is to review the job description and see if it makes sense in layman’s terms,” Bidwell says. “Because we’re a
manufacturing company, we employ a lot of engineers who like to speak technically. We want to look at specic skill sets and understand
the reasons why those exist.”
Potential Problems
Alexandra LeBlanc, lead sourcing specialist at Seven Step RPO, a recruitment outsourcing rm in Boston, places job description
maintenance into a larger context. “Keep an open line of communication with employees so you’re aware of incremental changes as they
occur. Keeping job descriptions current isn’t just about redening a role. It’s also about understanding how and why job functions are
changing, and anticipating any possible job description updates to reect those changes.”
What if an employee’s job description and daily tasks do not match? Experts say employees should be encouraged to ask HR for a job
description review if there appear to be inconsistencies between what the job description says and what they do. These situations need to
be handled carefully, however, and with the manager’s input.
At Sauer-Danfoss, “when we get requests from employees to review a job description, we direct them back through their leader,” Bidwell
says. “We ask the leader to come to HR to work through the issue. If someone feels they aren’t being recognized for extra work they are
doing or the scope of their job has expanded, we can have a conversation with the leader to validate that and, if necessary, update the
description. We can adjust compensation appropriately at that time.”
Bidwell adds that it is important to review the job description and not just match the description to the person currently doing the job.
Kannisto concurs, warning “You should not build a job description around an individual. If an employee brings an enhanced skill set to the
job, that does not mean that those special skills need to be written into the job description or the compensation needs to be increased,
unless you determine that this is a core element of the job.”
If, upon review, the job description turns out to be accurate, there is an opportunity to have a discussion about whether the employee is
spending time doing something that isn’t part of the job, Flewelling says. If the employee argues that his or her qualications are much
higher than what is in the job description, “that is the time to have a discussion about how the employee can move up in the organization to
take better advantage of his skills or education.”
We use cookies to improve your browsing experience on our website, and we use our own, as well as third-party cookies, to
display advertising for products and services we believe may be of interest to you. By closing the message or continuing to
browse this site, you agree to the use of cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy.
© 2019 SHRM. All Rights Reserved
SHRM provides content as a service to its readers and members. It does not oer legal advice, and cannot guarantee the accuracy or suitability of its content for a particular
Disclaimer (www.shrm.org/about-shrm/Pages/Terms-of-Use.aspx#Disclaimer)
Similarly, LeBlanc says, “HR should be aware of any inconsistencies with workload distribution and raise the issue accordingly. If there is
one employee doing the work of many, or employees who are unable or unwilling to do what’s asked of them, there needs to be serious
discussion about each job description, function and how those t in with the business goals.”
Flewelling concludes, “If you regularly use a job description, rather than just have one on le, you’re more likely to keep it up-to-date. If you
pull out a job description every time you work on performance reviews, compensation planning, succession planning, training and
development needs, you are a lot more likely to maintain it.”
The author is a freelance writer and former HR generalist and trainer in Wixom, Mich.
Web Extras
SHRM How-To Guide: How to Develop a Job Description
SHRM HR Q&A: How do I conduct a job analysis to ensure the job description actually matches the duties performed by the
employee in the job? (www.shrm.org/templatestools/hrqa/pages/conductjobanalysis.aspx)
HR Standards: Human Resource Management Standards (www.shrm.org/hrstandards/Pages/default.aspx)
News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.
Email Address We use cookies to improve your browsing experience on our website, and we use our own, as well as third-party cookies, to
display advertising for products and services we believe may be of interest to you. By closing the message or continuing to
browse this site, you agree to the use of cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy.

Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply

Buy Custom Essay

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Job Worth Doing: Update Descriptions
Just from $9/Page
Order Essay

Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?

Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.

Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?

  • Plagiarism free papers
  • Timely delivery
  • Any deadline
  • Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
  • Subject-relevant academic writer
  • Adherence to paper instructions
  • Ability to tackle bulk assignments
  • Reasonable prices
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Get superb grades consistently

Online Academic Help With Different Subjects


Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.


Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.

Computer science

Computer science is a tough subject. Fortunately, our computer science experts are up to the match. No need to stress and have sleepless nights. Our academic writers will tackle all your computer science assignments and deliver them on time. Let us handle all your python, java, ruby, JavaScript, php , C+ assignments!


While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.


Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.


In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.


Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.


We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!


We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.


Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.

What discipline/subjects do you deal in?

We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.

Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?

Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.

What if I don’t like the paper?

There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.

Reasons being:

  • When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
  • We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.

In the event that you don’t like your paper:

  • The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
  • We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
  • Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.

Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?

Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.

What if the paper is plagiarized?

We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.

When will I get my paper?

You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.

Will anyone find out that I used your services?

We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.

How our Assignment Help Service Works

1. Place an order

You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.

2. Pay for the order

Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.

3. Track the progress

You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.

4. Download the paper

The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.

smile and order essay GET A PERFECT SCORE!!! smile and order essay Buy Custom Essay

Place your order
(550 words)

Approximate price: $22

Calculate the price of your order

550 words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
The price is based on these factors:
Academic level
Number of pages
Basic features
  • Free title page and bibliography
  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 support
On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
  • Expert Proofreading
Paper format
  • 275 words per page
  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our guarantees

Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

Read more

Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

Read more

Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

Read more

Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

Read more

Fair-cooperation guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

Read more
error: Content is protected !!
Open chat
Need assignment help? You can contact our live agent via WhatsApp using +1 718 717 2861

Feel free to ask questions, clarifications, or discounts available when placing an order.
  +1 718 717 2861           + 44 161 818 7126           [email protected]
  +1 718 717 2861         [email protected]