A Prescription for Writing the Description

Apr 12, 2001

While some professionals continue to debate the necessity of job descriptions, others have already abolished the practice of creating and maintaining them. Yet until a viable alternative appears on the paperwork horizon, it’s likely that a document that defines the parameters of a position will remain a staple in most organizations. Whether it is used as a point of reference by management or it is given to an employee for the purpose of documentation and direction, or both, a job description needs to convey information in a manner that is thorough, appropriate and unambiguous. Even if an organization has its own set of guidelines to which it must adhere and language that must be incorporated as part of its position descriptions, the people responsible for documenting the duties can usually benefit from utilizing sources for job descriptions. “e” Description for the Job The “e” in isn’t just part of a trendy name; everything at the site is completely electronic. Job descriptions are purchased online by credit card and are delivered via email. M. Victor Janulaitis, CEO of, says the process allows for immediate delivery of products with no manual intervention. He also cites the convenience factor and points out that it’s not unusual for orders to be placed and received at two or three o’clock in the morning. The site originally began with a focus on government and IT jobs, but has now expanded to include positions in financial services, manufacturing and distribution. At present, there are nearly 1,000 job descriptions available. According to Janulaitis, within 30 to 60 days the database will include 2,500 positions. Selecting “Job Description” from the site’s homepage returns “Category” and “Sub-Category” drop-down menus. There is also a keyword box where a “Product Name” can be entered. To browse the complete list of available descriptions, select “Job Description” in both the “Category” and Sub-Category” fields, leave the “Product Name” box empty, and hit “Search.” An alphabetical list is returned. When looking for a particular type of position description, it’s not necessary to match the job to an exact title. For example, entering “manager” returns a wide assortment of managerial positions. Although job descriptions are available for purchase individually at the site, also publishes HandiGuides, many of which include multiple position descriptions. The “Information Technological Position Description HandiGuide,” for example, contains over 150 IT job descriptions. According to Janulaitis, “HandiGuides” offer another alternative for human resource professionals and recruiters seeking multiple job descriptions. Guides are available in both paper and electronic format. There are also HTML versions for company Intranet or Internet use. Information about’s “HandiGuides” can be obtained by selecting “HandiGuides” under the “Browse” heading.

Help from Hoover?s Hoover’s Online “Job Description” section features links to several articles about job descriptions, including one called “Job Description Problems and Solutions.” Hoover’s also lists as a resource, along with another company, Subscribing to the Description is a subscription service that allows users to create custom job descriptions online. Subscribers can draw on a database of position information that includes numerous industries. Among the many categories are “Accounting/Banking/Financial Services,” “Computer,” “Engineering,” “Retail” and “Science.” Sample job descriptions can be viewed at the site by selecting “Examples.” There is also the opportunity to “Take a Free Test Drive” at the site. subscriptions are available on a single-use, monthly or annual basis. Getting the Point is a division of KnowledgePoint, a company that also offers another job description tool. “Descriptions Now” is a CD-ROM product that, like its online counterpart, allows you to create custom job descriptions. “Descriptions Now” also includes an “Ad Writer” and an interview question and form generator. More information about the product, including technical specifications, can be obtained by selecting “Descriptions Now” at the KnowledgePoint homepage. Buy or By When it comes to writing job descriptions, whether you choose to purchase job descriptions or author your own, there are tools that can assist with the documentation process. It’s the “write” approach to detailing what employees do. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>