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RoleMapper Team
April 23, 2021

We frequently come across organisations who are trying to solve the job description conundrum. Those organisations who know, or have heard, that job descriptions have the potential to unlock talent and diversity.

However, when we ask them; “tell me about how job descriptions are created in your organisation? Who owns this process” We are often met with a laugh and a comment along the lines of “Ha, well now that’s a question!”

More often than not, the process of creating job descriptions is a bit all over the place with no one clear owner. In many organisations it is a process that crosses multiple functions - with each group wanting different outcomes from the job description.

For example, some companies have a reward function who use job descriptions for grading and benchmarking. Managers create job descriptions to help them define and build out their teams.

At the end of the process is recruitment who try to do their best at translating hundreds of different versions of job descriptions into content that will be appealing to the outside world.

Understanding definitions is the first step to making the change

Essentially, these organisations are correct in thinking that job descriptions are important. We at RoleMapper say that they sit at the epicentre of an organisations ability to attract, recruit and retain talent. But if you attempt to embed and scale a change to your job descriptions, without systematically changing how the process works, you will be left chasing your tail.

The start of any change initiative, no matter how big or small, should always starts with a vision of the future, defining the change and a view of the current state.

We thought it would be helpful to clarify a few definitions around the whole area of job descriptions.  We hope these will help you articulate and identify the change you need to make in your organisation to enable great inclusive job descriptions.


The process of designing the role

Job design is the process of actually designing a role. It is the process by which organisations define and divide the tasks that need to be done in order to carry out the work or service that needs to be delivered.

The Job design process helps determine responsibilities, accountabilities, deliverables and decision-making within the role. It also helps define inputs, outputs and interactions of the role, the key factors that influence the role, as well as how, where and when it must be performed.

Job design brings all these elements together to configure and create roles that motivate an employee to deliver the job successfully or attracts prospective candidate applications.


The output of the job design process

A job description is an internal document that provides all the detail about a role. It is a critical tool that describes the purpose, responsibilities, activities and outputs of a role. It helps us define the knowledge, skills, experience and capabilities that a person will need to enable successful delivery.

It might include reporting lines, where it sits in the hierarchy, grading etc. To create an effective job description, however, it’s important to go through the ‘job design’ process. You might not know it – you might just think you are putting your ideas down on a page - but that’s what it is, you are designing a job.

A job description is a feeder into a job advert. It is where we define the content that can be translated into a job adverts for the external marketplace, and defines the screening and assessment criteria for prospective candidates.

A job description describes what the candidate does for you; a job advert should focus on what you can do for them.


A job description tells, a job advert sells!

A Job advert is another output of the job design process. It is a re-scripted shorter, copy-written sales version of the job description to sell the role and company to prospective candidates.

A job advert translates the essential elements of a job description, along with any additional unique selling points, and compelling copy, that can be used to sell the role through various advertising channels.

The objective of a job advert is to be a sales tool to attract the widest possible pool of appropriate candidates. A job advert needs to market the organisation and the position in a positive way. It has to grab a potential candidate’s interest to encourage them to find out more.

Many organisations struggle to translate their job descriptions into job adverts. Failing to distinguish between a job description and a job advert can cause all sorts of challenges because the aim of each is different.

A consistent approach to job design is the key to creating great job descriptions and job adverts

So, job design is the process, job descriptions and job adverts are the outputs. To make a systematic change to your job descriptions or your job adverts, you need to go back and address the job design process.

How you create your job description – the job design process, the levers you have in place within this process - is absolutely key to how you attract, recruit, retain and progress talent.

The challenge that many organisations face is what happens when the job design process doesn’t exist. Or, if it does, it’s inconsistent.

Some companies go straight to the end product or job advert and try to improve the language and copy. While this is definitely helpful, it is only putting a sticking-plaster on the problem and solving a small part of what needs to be addressed.

Without a consistent, inclusive approach to how you design your jobs you will continue to struggle to make a systematic change to your job descriptions and job adverts, as well as your organisation’s ability to attract and retain talent.

If you want to make sure that all your jobs are designed and promoted inclusively. If you want to embed systematic change. You need to focus on the job design process.

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