Writing a US job description: what to say, what to leave out and why it matters for employers and employees

31/10/2016 | Posted by:

writing a us job description

Writing a US job description: what to say, what to leave out and why it matters for employers and employees

There’s an art to writing a US job description. Get it right and the benefits are lasting. Getting it wrong however carries the risk of being sued.

Job descriptions have three main purposes: to attract the right person for the job, to give that person a clear definition of roles and expectations, and to provide you with a reference point for managing and appraising the work they do. Writing a US job description is therefore an opportunity to win talent, build a more efficient business structure, increase engagement and provide clarity throughout the employment lifecycle.

A US job description should set clear job expectations, give your managers useable guidelines and comply with federal and state laws. The essential things to include are:

  • job title
  • summary of the position
  • list of job duties and responsibilities
  • description of the role within the company, including any supervisory responsibilities
  • desired qualifications including education level, past experience and required certifications
  • required soft skills
  • work environment

When writing your job description, it’s vital that you don’t limit the scope of the position in a way that prevents you from giving your employee additional responsibilities. So you’ll need to include a statement such as “performs other duties as assigned”.

The law

A clearly defined job description will help protect you from lawsuits relating to wages, promotions, discrimination and terminations.

Under federal law, employers generally can’t discriminate against employees on the basis of race, pregnancy, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship, disability, military service or affiliation, bankruptcy or bad debts, or genetic information. Even common, harmless-sounding phrases such as ‘recent college graduate’ could be viewed as discriminatory because they discourage older applicants.

Employers are also responsible for complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities to perform essential job duties. So it’s important that your job description clearly defines essential job duties and sets out how you’ll support workers with disabilities.

If you’re setting up a business in America, and looking for employees, Foothold America can help you write a job description that not attracts talent and meets all legal requirements.

FAQ: Can I be involved with the recruitment of my American employees with Foothold America?