The Danger of Inaccurate Job Descriptions - Zupnick Associates

(By: Brittany Brooks)

A common pitfall for first-time interviewers and even some seasoned HR specialists is using an inaccurate job description. A well-written job description is a crucial building block to your hiring process, yet it’s often overlooked and reused without being checked for errors, corrections, or updates.

Inaccurate job descriptions tend to be vague, poorly written, and don’t clearly convey your expectations to the employee. You may be dancing dangerously close to the following risks if you don’t present your expectations and the employee’s responsibilities explicitly:

  1. Attracting unqualified candidates

Job descriptions have the potential to attract a plethora of candidates, but it’s a nuisance when you receive 50 applications but only 7 candidates are qualified. If this happens to you more than you’d like, you might want to check your job description. 

The description may have opened the flood gates for unqualified candidates to pour in. When you’re hiring for a specific department, speak with the department manager about the skills, qualities, and expectations they need in a new hire.

Check to see if the job description matches that. If it doesn’t, update it as soon as possible to attract more qualified candidates. Giving more detail will signal to your ideal candidates that this position is right up their alley. 

Granted, you won’t be able to weed out all of the unqualified candidates, but the amount received should drastically drop.

  1. Confusion of expectations

A good job description is like setting a game plan for employees and new hires to understand their responsibilities, duties, and how they can succeed within their position. If the description isn’t correct, the employee may not meet your expectations or reach their full potential. 

It can also lead employees to do tasks that the company didn’t initially list in their job specifications or discuss during the interview. This is why it’s best to work with the department manager to iron out the details of the employee’s responsibilities.

  1. Possibility to impact retention & productivity

Inaccurate job descriptions can create a ripple effect, it seems minor at first, but before you know it, the impact has branched throughout the entire office. Imagine having an office staffed with employees who don’t know what to do throughout the day, the goal, or how their position fits into the scheme of things.

It would certainly holt productivity, but worse, who would care to work there or even attempt to give their best?

An employee not having a full understanding of the responsibilities in their lane can lead them to do tasks not listed in their job title. To some employees, it could feel unfair. This alone comes with its own line of issues:

  • The employee could request a raise
  • Disengage altogether
  • Or may want to quit

It doesn’t leave the department in a good position if the new hire decides to quit. It’ll throw you into another round of interviews. The new hire’s workload is still there, and it might have to be pushed onto another employee until someone else is hired.

Some employees may already be pitching in, leading them to the possibility of burnout and maybe a new job search. Either way, it’s not a desirable scenario for your retention.

  1. Possible legal repercussions

Job descriptions help determine employee wages, salaries, and how their job performance is calculated. When descriptions are inaccurate or outdated legal issues can arise. 

You’ll want to make sure to review your job descriptions at least once a year to make sure you’re compliant and that you have the correct information. Keep the line of communication open between you, the employee, and their manager to ensure you’re all on the same page.

An employee can file a wrongful termination lawsuit if they’re terminated for their performance based on an inaccurate job description. Having a well-defined description helps protect you from wrongful termination cases, retaliation claims, and justifies your employee’s wages/salary.

Review your job description for any errors or lack of detail to deter unqualified candidates before you start any interviews. Don’t be afraid to ask the employees who work closely with that particular position about their thoughts. 

They can add valuable insight that may not occur to you, empowering you with the ability to fine-tune your job description to attract the new hire your company needs.

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