Most companies use job descriptions in their job postings when recruiting new employees. They provide the core responsibilities of the job and give a broad view of what it takes to be successful in this role. Job duties are more specific and include the tasks performed by an employee in order to meet the job description. Job duties can change depending on the changing needs of the employer.

Job Descriptions for Hiring

Job descriptions are important as they provide the list of specific tasks, duties and responsibilities that need to be accomplished for the company to be successful in reaching its goals. Job descriptions can also help companies plan by analyzing future hiring needs and developing job descriptions accordingly. They also assist in preventing legal exposure by using criteria that is void of discriminatory (discrimination based on age, sex, race, religion or national origin) language and based on the actual qualifications and skills needed to perform the work.

Job Duties for Good Performance

Clearly defined job duties that coordinate with the job description may be helpful in ensuring good employee performance. Job duties may be listed within the job description and normally begin with verbs (action words). For example, one of the duties of a marketing manager job description may be,"establishes marketing goals to ensure the company share of market and profitability of products." This duty would coordinate with the job description summary that reads, "plans, directs, and coordinates the marketing of the company's products."

Job Descriptions for Discipline

Job descriptions may be clearly defined to employees along with job duties, goals and objectives. Once communicated to employees, supervisors can consistently provide coaching and training for continuous improvement. Job descriptions may also stand up in a legal situation should an employee sue for wrongful termination siting little or no knowledge of the job.

Job duties included will also provide information for analyzing performance. For example, if one of the job duties is to "prepare marketing reports weekly," and the employee is not performing to this duty, written documentation of poor performance can serve as a warning to the employee.

Job Duties for Training

Since job duties are the tasks actually required to perform the job description, they can be used for training purposes. Companies must compete in the marketplace to be successful, so training is critical to the success of the company. As companies grow and expand into other markets, some job descriptions may change.

For example, if there is new technology implemented that involves information technology employees, the job description may change to accommodate the new system. Job duties may need to be revamped to add the new tasks required and training developed according to these tasks.

Job Duties for Promotion

Since the job duties are the list of tasks required for the job description, employees who desire to move up in the company may utilize the task list to prepare for promotions. For example, if a marketing associate wants to move into a supervisory role, a job description and duties for a marketing supervisor could be used by the associate to study, train and to acquire the experience necessary to become a supervisor. Demonstrating readiness for a promotion may be beneficial to the employee when the opportunity is presented.