Sunday, December 13, 2015

Job Descriptions ~ How to Write One & Why it is Important to Do it Right! Part 2

Small Business Hiring Tips
Are Your Company Job Descriptions all they should be?
By now you now know that creating a good job description is the first step towards finding the quality hire you need for your small business.

It helps you discover exactly what skills and experience you need to fill your position. It will also help job seekers know if they will be a good fit with your company before they even apply!

You can discover more about what you need to include in a good job description in Part 1 of this series!

But the benefits of taking the time to do it right don’t stop there.  
There are 2 more reasons Why a good Job Description is so important to your Small Business.

Good Job Descriptions Help Guide Your Small Business Hiring Decisions!  “Tweet This”

2 Reasons a Good Job Description is Important to Your Small Business

Reason 1 ~ A Good Job Description Guides You During the Background Check Process.

When done right, your job description will help determine the scope of your background check. Knowing in advance exactly what is included in the job’s responsibilities is key.

You will need to consider the Level of your open position, whether the job includes access to company assets or sensitive customer/client data, and whether the position includes contact with customers and employees.

Determining this beforehand with a well-detailed job description will both help you decide what to check and keep you compliant with regulations concerning employment screening.

Read more about the link between Job Descriptions and Background Checks in “One Size Does Not Fit All!  Why You Need to Fit the Background Check to the Job”!

Reason 2 ~ A Good Job Description Helps You Avoid Discrimination Claims

A good job description will help protect you and your small business against claims of discrimination, as long as it is clear about the job’s expectations and requirements. While there isn’t any legislation or rule that dictates you have job descriptions, the fact that they can help you avoid a costly lawsuit should be reason enough.

You need to be careful to avoid any potentially discriminatory or exclusionary wording in your job descriptions. Omit any gender specific phrases, such as “he will need to….” or age specific requirements. The key is not to write a job description that automatically excludes applicants in specific groups.

4 Red Flags to Avoid in Your Job Descriptions
If you require a certain level of education in your job description, you must be certain that it is necessary to performing the job duties.

EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines make clear recommendations when it comes to education requirements in job descriptions. You should not set any education requirements at a level where they are more than what the job truly requires or they restrict applicants from any protected groups from being hired or possibly promoted.

For example, requiring that your applicants have a certain degree is discriminatory if it is truly not necessary to your job. Instead, you need to focus your job description on the skills your applicant must have to do the job.  

Any job requirements you list that have to do with experience need to be completely job related and not discriminatory towards any protected group. Statements that require your applicants be within a specific age range or gender fall into this category.  

If you intend to list requirements like these, you must be able to justify them as necessary for the job. However this is hard to prove, so I recommend you omit them and save yourself from being targeted in a discrimination lawsuit.

Language Skills
Unless your job duties include the need for fluent language skills, you should not include them in your job description. For example, stating that all applicants must have “good grammar”, even when the position is on an assembly line or as an overnight stock employee, is questionable.

However, if the position requires clear communication with other employees and customers (as in your sales department), listing the need for good language skills in your job description makes sense. 

Physical Abilities
Job Descriptions can be an especially sensitive area when it comes to applicant’s with disabilities. According to the ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act), if an applicant/employee is capable of fulfilling your essential job functions with “reasonable accommodation”, then you should not discriminate against them when it comes to making a hiring decision.

And this needs to be addressed in your job description.  Using terms such as “walk” or “talk” can be problematic. Instead, you can replace them with more non-discriminatory terms like “move” (in place of “walk”) or “communicate” (in place of “talk”).  

However, if your position requires specific physical abilities, then these need to be specifically listed in your “necessary for business” job qualifications and “reasonably related” to your job. 

What exactly does “reasonably related” mean?
According to the EEOC (*Source1) ~
Job descriptions “based on these protected characteristics (race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation) are lawful only when an employer can demonstrate that they are bona fide occupational qualifications ("BFOQs") reasonably necessary to the normal operation of business. Otherwise stated, if a job description includes a requirement based on employee’s gender, national origin, religion, or age, all or substantially all of the individuals excluded from the requirement must be unable to safely and effectively perform the job duties which are reasonably necessary to the safe and efficient operation of the business.”.

Also frequently mentioned is the idea of “Business Necessity”.

What exactly is “Business Necessity”?
According to the SBA (Small Business Administration” (*Source2) ~
“Business Necessity” is defined as:
  • A qualification necessary to the safe and efficient operation of the business
  • A qualification where there are no alternatives or practices that would better or equally serve the same purpose without the discriminatory impact
  • A qualification that effectively carries out the purpose it is supposed to serve
What this really means is that your job description qualifications show “business necessity” if they must be met in order for the job to be done safely and effectively.  

However, if there are reasonable concessions or accommodations you can make that would allow someone who does not meet these qualifications to do the job, then the qualification you list is not a “business necessity”.

You need to realize that it is possible for your job descriptions to discriminate even when that is not your intention (and you can still be held liable for them).  

What Should You Do?
Take a critical look at your job descriptions now! Make sure they do not, even marginally, include language that can be seen as discriminatory to anyone in a protected class (race, age, sex, national origin, or religion).

When describing your job duties, be sure to stick with those that are completely necessary (as outlined in your necessary Skill Set), and avoid any generalizations.  Be specific.

Following the tips in both Part 1 and Part 2 in this series will help you write the perfect Job Description for your Small Business. And, most importantly, it will help ensure you hire the best, and safest, candidate for your small business!
What are You waiting for?  

Authored by  

API can help you develop the best Job Descriptions for You and Make Sure You 
Hire Right!

Contact API for Help With Your Small Business Hiring
Discover more About Us and our Background Investigation services too! And be sure to visit our 
Resources and Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to some common hiring questions.  Thanks!

*Source1 ~ Title VII and ADA: Hiring/Job Requirements/Job Descriptions

*Source2 ~ Writing Effective Job Descriptions via Small Business Administration

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Job Descriptions ~ How to Write One & Why it is Important to Do it Right! Part 1

Small Business Hiring & Job Descriptions

Do You know How to Write the Best Job Description for Your Company?
Writing an effective and detailed job description is important.  It not only helps you hire the best person for the job, it also protects your company legally.  

The right job description ensures that both your applicants and your existing employees understand what is expected of them. It will also help you, as a manager, to determine whether your employees are meeting the job’s expectations.

In addition, Your Job Description Will:
  • Outline the Duties and Expectations of the Position
  • Determine Your Job Training Goals
  • Help You Evaluate Your Employee’s Performance
A well-written job description will also help protect your company from employment related lawsuits. Omitting any wording in your job description that can be considered discriminatory is key. Being vigilant here can ensure that you are not in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or any employment laws.

While, as an employer, you may put off the task of creating job descriptions until you are ready to hire, this is not the way to go. Instead, doing what you can now to get them in place makes sense.  It will give you the time you need to be both thorough and careful.
The Perfect Job Description will Help You Hire Right  “Tweet This”!

Following these steps will help you create the best Job Descriptions for your business!

Step 1 ~ List the Job Duties of Your Open Position
You need to know exactly what your employee will be expected to do and what role they will play in your company. This should include all daily responsibilities or duties your employees will be expected to perform.  

It is best to brainstorm here and list anything you can think of that would pertain to this job. You can always streamline later if needed.

You also need to decide where the job ranks in your company hierarchy. Is it at a manager level? Will they have employees report to them and who will they report to?

All this will help you know exactly what this job entails and where it fits in your company.    

Step 2 ~ Determine the Skill Set for the Job
Of course your ultimate goal when hiring is to find the right person for the job. Therefore, it is crucial to decide what skills, knowledge, and experience are needed.

You should choose what requirements must be met in order for the applicant to do the job. These will be considered “essential functions” to the position.

There are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations that should be considered during this step. According to the ADA, “essential functions” are those that are fundamental to the job.

To be “essential” in the eyes of the ADA  ~ 
You must judge the function as essential
Your Job Descriptions must include the function as essential 
The function must require a significant amount of time to perform
There must be consequences if the function is not performed
Past / Present experience with the position shows the function to be essential

Being very clear here will help you know exactly what skills you need and avoid claims of discrimination when hiring (find out more about this in Part 2 of this series!).

Step 3 ~ Fit the Job Qualifications to the Skill Set Needed
Once you understand the skill set you need, you will be able to determine the qualifications needed for the job. Be sure that you list everything that the applicant needs in order to fill the role.

These should be anything that is necessary for the applicant to be qualified for the job. They may include necessary degrees and certifications and necessary physical requirements.

Even more specifically, you need to include things like whether they are required to know a specific software program or have a certain level of experience.       

Referring back to the job duties and  “essential functions” of the job will definitely help here.

You should also consider what personality traits would be desired in anyone applying for the job. While phrases like “detail-oriented” and “self-starter” may seem overused, including them in your list of job qualifications will help when you are ready to write your job description. They will also be useful when advertising for your open position.

Step 4 ~ Determine What You Will Pay
Don’t forget to include what you are ready to pay your new hire. Decide whether the position is to be hourly or salary, if overtime is involved, and if bonuses or commissions are part of the pay package. Determine both what you can afford to pay and what the job duties warrant.

Associating the right salary with the job will also help you attract the best candidates!

Step 5 ~ Write Your Job Description
Being thorough in the preceding steps will be invaluable when it comes to finally writing your job description. You will not only be sure to not leave anything important out, but you will also know exactly the type of candidate that would make your ideal hire. 

Your first goal in writing your job description is to be as clear and concise as possible. Job seekers should know exactly what you are looking for and how they will fit in. 

Making the description specific and easy to read is key. Be completely accurate in describing what qualifications are needed to do the job. You should also include all the responsibilities they would be expected to perform. Referring back to the skill set and qualification lists you made will make this much easier. 

Be sure to share your company’s “vibe” in your job description as much as possible. Using words that convey your company culture will help you attract the best candidates for you.

If yours is a more “relaxed” environment, you can use words like “flexible”, “informal”, and “casual”. If it is quick paced and energetic, you can include words like “dynamic” and “high-powered”.

Don’t be vague. In order to get the right candidates, you need to be very clear. Make it easy for them to picture whether or not they can fit the role.

Following these steps will help you write the Best Job Description for You. In Part 2 of this series, we will explain Why that Job Description is so Important to Your Small Business!

Authored by    

API can Help You Hire More Effectively and Safely in Your Small Business!

Contact Us Before You Hire!
You can also find out More About Us and our 
Background Investigation service. Check out our Resources & Frequently Asked Questions page for information designed to Help You!  Thanks!