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Does the Position Description Still Fit?

By Sonya Buck, Australia


You’ve received the resignation from a key staff member and you are so busy, you feel it’s just more work to add to your already full plate.  


Assuming you don’t have a Human Resources department, it’s up to you take responsibility for the employment process going smoothly and this is the first task to be completed before you move on to writing a job advertisement.


With so much to do, it would be easy to just run with the same position description which has been attached to the role for many years.

Stop!  You might be lucky that the old job description may still fit the position, but sometimes it may not.  Time marches on and some of the details included in the position description may still not be accurate or relevant.


When reviewing the description there are several aspects to consider:


  • Are the tasks and activities appropriate to the role?


Since the job description was last updated some of activities this position encompasses may have moved to another staff member or you may wish to consider if they should move.  Alternatively, historically someone may have performed functions just because ‘it is the way it has always been’, when they are really more suited to another role.


  • Have the skills and qualifications required changed? 


If the responsibilities within the role have changed, maybe the skills and qualifications need to be updated.  There might have been a switch in technology or the role may require more analysis, the list is endless.


  • Who should the role report to and has this changed?


It may be timely or appropriate that this role now reports to a different Supervisor or Manager.

Does the current Manager have sufficient time to devote to supporting this role?  Is the position a good fit for their department? 


  • Are any of the activities now redundant?

Do all of the activities have a purpose?  Does running reams of reports lead to any meaningful data which is useful and can be actioned, leading to efficiencies or improvements?  Can any of the activities be automated to be less labour intensive?


  • Take a look at the Organisation chart or structure.  Does the role fall under the correct department or Supervisor/Manager?


  • If supervised by you, is there scope to move some of your tasks over to this role?


  • Could the role be more flexible?

Depending on the position, is it now time to consider if the role could be carried out by the staff member telecommuting or is it one which could job shared with another team member?


When updating or creating a position description, you might be a few steps removed from the day to day activities undertaken, so it is important to consult the roles direct Supervisor and also the staff member leaving.  The outgoing staff member will know more than anyone what their role now involves on a daily basis.


Remember the job description will not be replicated in full in the position advertisement, but should be available to candidates, therefore, it should include everything they need to know.


When you need to replace a staff member or create new role, don’t think of writing or revising a position description as a burden, think of it as an opportunity to attract correct the right candidates.