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Job descriptions help companies create optimal organizational structures, staff the business properly, recruit the best potential candidates and manage employees once they are on board. Less-detailed job descriptions posted on job boards help employers get a wider variety of candidates, while more inclusive descriptions narrow down the field of applicants. In some instances, employers create job descriptions specifically to scare off potential applicants.
Business use job descriptions to create new positions that address specific, unserved needs or to fill existing jobs with candidates who will bring the most value to a company. This occurs at the beginning of the recruiting process to help businesses rank the key skills, abilities and experience levels required for the job. Candidates don't always have all of the skills desired for a position, so ranking them in a job description helps interviewers compare qualified candidates with different skill sets.
To attract candidates with specific skills and experience, employers create detailed job descriptions that tell potential employees what work they will need to do and what qualifications they must have to be successful in the position. In some instances, employers list minimum or mandatory skills required to get the job. In others, employers list the skills they prefer but are not mandatory. Some job descriptions let applicants without certain certification levels know that the company will hire them but that they must attain the certification within a specified period after they are hired.
Some jobs require travel, odd hours or have physical requirements that otherwise-qualified candidates can’t meet or don’t want. Including this information in a job description lets these potential applicants avoid applying for the job. Some employers, especially government agencies, must follow specific legal or internal rules and guidelines when filling positions, prohibiting them from hiring someone without posting the job publicly and interviewing candidates. If a company already has decided on whom it wants to fill a position, the hiring manager will create detailed job description matching the desired candidate’s current skills and experience, attempting to make the credentials so unique that almost no one else qualifies for the job.
A job description is often the starting point for many interviews, helping an interviewer verify that you have the skills, knowledge, experience, education, training, abilities and competencies to successfully handle the position. This prevents the interviewer from spending time asking questions about your leadership abilities, personal interests, work style, desired compensation or future career goals and then determining you’re not qualified for a specific position. Based on the results of interviews, a hiring manager can rank and evaluate candidates using the job description.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.