How to Conduct a Job Description Review

Find the right new hires and retain employees by keeping your job descriptions up to date. Here’s how.

Written by Jennifer Barnes
Published on Jun. 28, 2023
How to Conduct a Job Description Review
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Many companies write job descriptions once and then fail to update them as business needs or processes change. Few roles ever stay the same. It’s essential to periodically revisit your existing job descriptions and make sure they are still relevant and accurate. This step is critical to making sure each employee knows what they need to accomplish in their role and what goals they should set to help them succeed. A regular job description review process also ensures that your job postings are up-to-date and makes sure that you’re giving candidates all the relevant information and qualifications needed to succeed.

3 Steps to a Job Description Review

  1. Review the qualifications and skills for the role.
  2. Update the job requirements.
  3. Review the work environment.

Up-to-date job descriptions are also important for your current employees to ensure that promotions and raises are being fairly and accurately presented. In this article, we'll be considering other reasons why it might be important to review your company's job descriptions, what the benefits of doing so will bring and how exactly to go about performing your reviews of those descriptions.


Job Description Reviews Aren’t Only for Hiring

Reviewing job descriptions may not be at the top of the mind for executives when the company isn’t hiring, however, a regular job description review process does serve a vital purpose. 

These descriptions can serve as a baseline for performance reviews and compensation strategies, and they inform employees exactly what is expected of them in the way of performance. It also helps them understand whether they are successful in their role and what they need to do to be promoted. 

Because roles tend to evolve over time thanks to the addition of new tools, expanding project scopes, employee departures and more, keeping job descriptions up to date will prevent a fire drill if you need to hire quickly.  If you aren't regularly reviewing your job descriptions, you may find yourself rushing to do so at a non optimal time.

Many of the “urgent” situations executives might find themselves dealing with could even be prevented if they had the right hires supporting them. Start by having accurate, specific and clearly communicated job descriptions and key performance indicators in place that your team can strive to accomplish.

Job descriptions serve as guides to performance, especially during employee reviews and compensation discussions. When you have accurate and current job descriptions in place, they can serve as the basis for creating an equitable pay scale in the company and helping to fill skills gaps. You might find after conducting a job description review that you have redundancies in your team, or that you have gaps that should be filled with a new hire. Even if you don't have gaps that make sense to hire a full-time employee to fill, an outsourced company or fractional hire can take on those tasks or roles so they aren't being overlooked or attempted by an employee who doesn’t have the necessary experience. 

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Steps Involved in Conducting Job Description Reviews

It might seem like a tedious task to review your company's job descriptions, but the benefits will make the effort worthwhile. By following the step-by-step process below, you can feel confident about having accurate and clear representations of the skills and experience needed to fulfill any position in your company.


1. Review Qualifications and Skills for the Role

The first thing you should do is review the necessary qualifications and the required skills, abilities and experience required for a particular role. This should be a statement of minimum qualifications, because it may well be that many of the needed skills can be supplied through training and on-the-job experience.

Speak with current employees or direct managers about what an average day in a given role looks like to get an accurate snapshot. There may be some things that have changed since you originally drafted the description. It’s also a good time to review what will make someone successful. Think about what has made others successful in this role and then determine whether there are other areas that this position can have an impact on. 

The next thing you should consider is how this can impact others in the department or anyone who has a similar role. You want everyone to be successful and don’t want to create an unfair work environment where one person is given preferential treatment over someone else doing the same work. Analyze what other team members are doing and how they can best support one another. Teamwork is key so make sure your team is collaborative and treated fairly. This may also be a good time to consider whether someone deserves a promotion or a title change. 

Lastly, confirm that the skills you have written down previously are still required. It’s possible that you may prefer candidates who are familiar with a particular software or who have specific industry expertise. If so, make sure this is listed in the description. You should consider whether the experience you are asking for is a deal-breaker or if it is something that can be taught early into the person’s employment.


2. Update the Job Requirements

Describing the physical and mental requirements needed for a position is the next part of the process. If there are any physical requirements, these should be listed to avoid any later misunderstandings or discrimination issues. If your new employee will be required to do physically strenuous activities or must sit at a desk for extended periods, then make sure your description lists this. If it’s possible to have a stand up desk option, it could be worth mentioning.

It’s also a good opportunity to review whether this is a job that can be done remotely. Speak to a direct manager, and ask them what they require to be most effective. Many people prefer a hybrid environment, so if this is an option, make sure to list it. When the description was originally written, this may not have been an option. 

Doing this review of the requirements is always a good idea and usually a quick exercise. 


3. Review the Work Environment

After you describe the requirements, it would be a good time to think about the overall company culture and how the team collaborates. If it is a remote company, how does everyone communicate? Do they use teams, slack or another form of messaging? Think about how you can best describe the environment. Even a small amount of detail can help a candidate picture themselves at the organization. 

During the interview, consider asking the potential new hire for their perspectives on what they think the organization stands for and why they think they are a good fit. Ask them to describe what they think the work environment will be and then ask what they like about it. Even one example is great as it shows they have thought about it or can picture themselves at the company. 

If they seem excited about the work environment, that is usually a good sign. If they ask if they can work from home more or to do things differently right away, that could be a red flag.

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Advantages of Creating Clearer Job Descriptions

Having well-written job descriptions makes the hiring process much easier on everyone. When you have accurate and clear job descriptions, you should get well-qualified candidates who have the requisite skills needed by your company as well as the soft skills that may make them a culture fit. 

This can save a great deal of time in the recruitment and interviewing processes, because you can weed out candidates who aren’t a good fit, saving time in both interviewing and new hire retention. If your job descriptions are not clear and accurate, it might cause a qualified candidate to feel that they were misled by the description, which can lead to job dissatisfaction or early quitting. Look beyond just making a job description accurate and think about what kind of new hire you are looking to attract. 

One other advantage of having solid and specific job descriptions is that they protect your company after a termination. When a new employee doesn't work out, it’s usually because they failed to meet expectations as stated in the job description. If a new hire fails to live up to those expectations and termination becomes necessary, the job description can be pointed to as the documentation for employee performance. This is another reason to add some metrics and performance indicators that spell out what will make an employee successful in the position. 

For current employees, by rewriting their job descriptions and updating them to accurately reflect what you expect out of them, they won’t have any confusion about their responsibilities. This is separate however from giving them quarterly and annual goals. The description is meant to be more of a broad idea of what to expect and things they should be focusing on, not for listing out all the specifics of each task.

Job description reviews are an important part of the hiring process and for fairly assessing your current employees. By regularly reviewing and updating your job descriptions, you can ensure that they are accurate, clear and helpful to both candidates and current employees. 

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