Does Your Employee’s Job Description Have Scary Holes?

Not in my job description, dude.

When you write a job description for a new employee, you need to include the main things you want the employee to do and a salary range. Then you’re good, right? Not even close.

You may think of that job description the way some people treat an online dating profile—an outline of your most important needs without reference to picky little things like hygiene or financial solvency. But, in fact, it’s a contract. Anything you don’t include in the job description, you can’t fault your employee for failing to do. So if you need someone to work weekends during peak crazy times, you’d better put it on there, or Bubba doesn’t have to do it. If you need someone who can pitch to clients but you didn’t put it on there because you mostly needed a developer, he can be the worst salesman in the world and you can’t fire him for it.

And you sure can’t ask him to make coffee, file documents or answer the phone unless it’s clearly spelled out.

Job descriptions are tricky. You can’t take anything for granted.

When you write a job description for a new position, you have to consider everything that makes up that employee’s working life.

Will the employee need to be in the office at least 40 hours a week? Forgo all personal calls, texts and emails during work time? Answer phone calls in a professional way? What about physical requirements?

Will the employee have to stand on her feet for long periods? Lift boxes? Set up trade-show booths?  Will the employee be expected to participate when your business puts together a team for a 5K fundraiser?

What about term of contract? Is this a full-time, long-term employment or is the employee a contractor? Will this agreement be “Employment at Will” wherein either you can end employment, or the employee can, for any reason at any time? Or can you only terminate “for cause”? And what is cause? What agreement are you making for pay and benefits?

All this stuff has to be written in a way that never hints at discrimination. Kohler Co., a plumbing fixture business, paid nearly a $1 million in a discrimination lawsuit because instead of testing employees for their ability to lift a certain amount of weight, they included a height requirement they thought would ensure their employees were large enough to lift the weight.


You get the picture. In the movies, when the employee leaves his employer in the lurch by saying “It’s not in my job description” it’s usually because the employer is asking the employee to break up with a girlfriend or do their dry cleaning. In real life, “Not in my job description” can leave you with a serious hole in your operation.

We’re awesome at helping you write the job description you need for your position. We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business. Contact me at or call (512) 420-8267.


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