Two Birds, One Stone: The Role Your Job Description Plays in Job Training

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When you take on a new employee, you need a good job description. But, many employers treat these as somewhat separate issues – wrong. Here’s the role your job description plays in job training, and how to make the most of it for new hires.

The Roles And Responsibilities Of The New Hire

A good job description outlines the responsibilities of a job to the prospective employee. One of the beginning points in any training program is to communicate these responsibilities to new hires.

Effective training takes the job description given to the prospective employee and builds on it. During orientation, new hires may also interact with senior staff and upper management. Trainers can explain how the employee’s new position is related to, and affected by, the other departments.


Outlining Training Activities

Job descriptions also give employees direction in the job, provide examples, and illustrate the importance of the employee’s role in the job.

For example, if an employee is learning to become an IT specialist within a company, he or she may need to take courses through, interact with customer service or directly with customers, learn to use the software, and “role play” a variety of scenarios to “stress test” the system and himself.

Promoting Incentives

Job descriptions are tools for the employer to attract the most capable employees. Not all job descriptions to a good job of this, of course. Ideally, a description will contain various bits of information, including promotions and incentives.

For example, a job description might explain how an employee advances through the company’s ranks, how raises are earned, what incentives the company offers and so on.

Employees regard pay and promotion to be very important when job hunting. No serious or long-term employee really wants to work for an employer where there is no opportunity for growth or advancement. The job description that contains advancement information will, therefore, attract the best, brightest, and most capable employees who are also long-term thinkers.


Likewise, companies that don’t include this information won’t attract most of the long-term thinkers and capable employees because they will be looking for this information from a company. Companies that don’t advertise long-term growth potential usually do not have systems in place to accommodate advancement.

Compensation For The Work

Basic compensation for the work is a must. If you want to attract good employees, you must provide basic salary and benefits information. Benefits are becoming more and more important these days, as employees are struggling to save money for retirement and pay for health insurance.

Legal Defense

One of the more unappreciated aspects of a good job description is the legal defense it provides.

An extensive job description outlines nearly everything that is required of an employee. If an employee needs to be terminated, one of the defensible claims he could raise is that “it wasn’t in the job description.”

Disgruntled former employees may try to dispute the termination by filing a claim with the Department of Labor. Since the DOL tends to side with employees where there is a dispute over an employment contract where the terms are ambiguous, an accurate job description can become a tool for the employer and used as a defense against bogus claims.

For example, a job description could be used as evidence as to why the employee was terminated. If it can be proven that the employee was:

  • provided a copy of the job description and;
  • given adequate training

If these two points can be proven then the claim could be dismissed. Without the job description, however, and proof of training, the employer is at a serious disadvantage.

Job descriptions that become part of the employee handbook are possibly the safest and best way to protect the employer, while simultaneously providing full disclosure to all employees about what’s expected of them at work.

A note about employee handbooks and training: only include information you can guarantee to your employees. Limit specifics that do not relate directly to the job.

Performance Management

All companies want good-performing employees. A job description is one of the tools used when a manager wants to meet with an employee to discuss his or her performance. A performance evaluation highlights overall work performance and alerts the employee to both the strengths and weaknesses or shortcomings of the employee’s work.

The job description serves as the “measuring stick” or standard for the employer. The employee knows, up front, what is expected of him. This means the review is used to gauge how well the employee is meeting objectives.

Author Bio: Lewis H. Parker is a human resources manager. He likes to write about his insights on the web. His articles appear mainly on career and business sites.


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