This is a task that many people avoid if they can! Why? Because it is time-consuming and typically they are doing it under time pressure when they would rather be doing something else.

I love doing it and always have done. I really enjoy discovering what it is people do and what they are trying to achieve.

The process typically described as job analysis and that provides the key to what this is all about – gathering and analysing information – simply dumping things on screen or on paper misses the point.

Some basic principles to bear in mind:

  • Analysis, not lists
  • Focus on the job not the job holder
  • Describe the job as it is now not as it has been in the past
  • In the principal areas of the job always try to get to the rationale or the outcome required
  • The less you talk the more information you get

Let me share with you how I go about it:

  • I begin by asking the job holder or line manager to tell me what the key areas of the job are – only headings no detail. This is my agenda for the discussion – I guarantee as you proceed the job holder will add to the list. Trust me if you start with one heading and work it through the job holder eventually dries up and it becomes demanding work. Whereas if you have the list and one of the topics becomes problematic you can move on to the next.
  • For each heading I ask: “What is it you do?” and “What is the rationale or reason for doing so?” This produces a number of brief statements describing the actions they take and the outcome they try to achieve. All you have to do is work this into a single sentence of two or three lines max.
  • Repeat this for each heading. If you do this well it will take around two thirds of the total time to develop the first draft of the job description.
  • Now depending on the format of the document you can use these statements to get the remaining information you need. For example…” You mentioned developing engineering drawings…. what knowledge, skills, qualifications do you need to do that? Who do you come into contact with? What are the challenges you face? Etc. It does not matter what section you are trying to complete if you go back to the core elements of the job…I refer to them as accountabilities…you will always get the information you need from the job holder or line manager.
  • As far as the format goes here are my typical headings:
    • Purpose
    • Dimensions
    • Reporting Relationships
    • Accountabilities
    • Communication
    • Decision-making
    • Main Challenges
    • Knowledge and Skills

There is no right answer here as it depends on how you intend to use the JD or Profile.

  • Thanks for reading this. Now if you want a free copy of my guide that includes a completed example just message me….no strings, no selling…I simply what to share my knowledge with you.