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The Particulars of a Job: Description vs. Requirements

In most cases the quality of the workforce determines the success of any business. As we discussed on Wednesday (10/24/12), there are five essential elements of a job description but there is a compelling need to focus specifically on requirements. A job description defines the duties, tasks and responsibilities of a position, creating a framework for hiring the right candidate. The description is used in marketing and promotion to attract new talent to the company. The requirements set the stage for digging deep into the details of the position and reflect the culture of the company.  They have emerged as the strategic details that can set the candidates apart and make it easier for HR managers to look for an employee to specifically match the employee’s long-term goals.

Determining a job’s essential requirements can be achieved through a formal job analysis, which is a legally recognized method by which employers can ensure a valid and defensible set of requirements. Requirements differ from the description in several ways.  A description helps the organization define the nature of the position, while the requirements assist in defining the specifications of a candidate who will most likely be able to fulfill the demands outlined in the description.

Requirements again dig deeper into the culture of the company, explaining specifications beyond basic qualification. More intangible goals of a job such as communications, presentable appearance, timeliness and crisis management, are all soft skills that fall under the requirements. These skills may be listed throughout the job description and fall under different categories.

Both the description and the requirements pay a role in the hiring process. Without a proper description the company could hire a person not truly interested in the position and not well-matched for the job. Likewise, hiring without understanding the true requirements of the job, will most likely lead to an incompetent hire.

With a focus on company efficiency in meeting employee goals and organizational goals, both job descriptions and requirements have become more strategic and detailed. Understanding the critical balance between these two integral aspects of a position, the detailed duties and the specific type of person an organization is attempting to recruit, is what sets great companies apart.

Invest in good job descriptions, understand the dynamics of your culture to incorporate strong requirements, and seek to hire employees that will make a difference for you as an employer. This strategy will keep the focus on attracting employees that are qualified, motivated and reflect your culture and who will help your business succeed.

Luke A. Wingfield is an associate with McBrayer law. Mr. Wingfield concentrates his practice in employment law, insurance defense, litigation and administrative law. He is located in the firm’s Lexington office and can be reached at lwingfield@mcbrayerfirm.com or at (859) 231-8780, ext. 1265.

Services may be performed by others.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

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