Top 5 Reasons to Update Your Job Descriptions Now

By Kathryn O'Connor, PHR, SHRM-CP, CCP, GRP, Director, Compensation Services
Published May 14, 2019

No law requires an employer to have or maintain job descriptions. However, there are several benefits to having detailed job descriptions for each position in your organization.

Recruitment: Having a detailed job description will assist you in knowing what knowledge, skills, and abilities are necessary for a position and what you should look for in a qualified candidate. Furthermore, it highlights the key duties performed by each position. By having this information at the beginning of the recruitment process, you can create a custom job posting that clearly communicates the expectations of the position.

Job description form

Orientation: Job descriptions are a useful tool during the onboarding process. Managers and supervisors can use the job description to map out an orientation plan to set employee expectations and ensure that the new hire is properly trained to perform all job duties.

Compensation:  It’s imperative that employees are competitively compensated, and job descriptions are an integral part of the market benchmarking process. The job description should provide detailed information that enables the compensation analyst to make appropriate job matches to published compensation survey data. 

Performance: Do you think your employee exhibits strong performance? Before completing employee appraisal documentation, it’s recommended that the manager reference the job description to make sure the employee is performing all job duties successfully. If an employee is exhibiting sub-par performance, the job description can also be a useful communication tool to explain exactly what tasks should be performed, what work rules should be followed, and what quantity or quality standards must be met. The annual appraisal is also a great time to sit down and review the job description with the employee to see if the job has changed over the past year. If so, the manager and employee should update the job description and route the updated draft to the human resources department for review and approval.

Compliance: Having detailed job descriptions can help ensure you are complying with federal and state employment laws. For example, a job description can be used to help determine if accommodations can be made for an employee under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A job description can also be helpful to determine if an employee can be released to full-duty following a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act. Is your employee exempt from overtime? The job description should be an integral part of performing a Fair Labor Standards Act analysis.

Feeling motivated to update your job descriptions? HR Source is here to help. Members have access to sample job descriptions on our website – and are always encouraged to get help and support through the HR Hotline. Contact us at 800-448-4584 or

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