How to Write a Job Description

Ah yes, the joys of paperwork! If you've ever sat down to draft a job description, new policy, or office manual you know the frustration and weight that the task comes with. Often the hardest part is just getting started! If you need to write job descriptions (and trust me, you DO) here's a simple guideline for getting started.

#1- What the position does.
#2- Why it matters.
#3- Who they are (and who you are).

That's it? Yep. I prefer a straight forward approach that gets to the heart of why that job is a job. I also firmly believe that a job description should never be longer than a page. You can have a separate paper that lists tasks, that's not what this document is for. Of course you'll need to put the position title and who they report to. Let's set the obvious to the side for now.

What do they DO

What the position does.

This area outlines the bottom line impact of the position within the business. For example a hygienist: provides timely, efficient, superior hygiene services to our patients in keeping with our productive goals. Simple, clear, and goal directed. You may be wondering, why do I even need to write this out for a hygienist? Isn't it obvious? Nope. It's never obvious. That's a myth. Communication and expectations are really tricky and easy to mess up. The number one goal for that position is to provide that service reliably and consistently. Not to say...sharpen their instruments, book lunch and learns, and clean the lab. I'm not saying they can't do these things, but those don't directly impact the bottom line of the business in the way only they can. So you must be clear about where their focus needs to be at all times.

Every role matters. Tell them why this one does specifically.

Why it matters.

Here's the meat of the job description. This section will help in performance evaluations and goal setting. This is where you tie the vision of the business into the specific role. Keeping with hygiene as our example, you discuss the goal of providing longterm preventive care starting with the foundation of the patient's hygiene. You can talk about the importance of the role the hygiene department plays in the practice financially and in terms of service. The vision for its growth and what it's does specifically for the patient and the team. Feel free to get gushy and talk about big dreams. We all want and need a purpose in what we do. Talk purpose here. Show them why you care and they should too.

Are their values in alignment with yours?

Who they are.

This is truly the secret sauce of a good Job Description. This is where we talk about their values being in alignment with ours and who they should be to fit with who we are. In other words, if education is important to you something that should be in this section would be: a committed lifelong learner. If you are driven towards growth you could say: competitive and goal oriented. Those are loaded words, but when we're talking about hygienists it is easy to find yourself a thousand "team players" who love to slip into their comfy routines and hate change. If your practice is growing and needs someone driven, then you want to hire for that and you need the handful of hygienists out there that love to push themselves. They exist and you should be clear that that's important and necessary for the successful candidate.

This is also a great place to talk about the future of the position. If there's a leadership opportunity put it in there! If it's a long term and stable place to make a home, put that there. This section let's you get to the heart of what makes the job and individual person important and fitting to the practice as a whole. This may be where you talk about the role humor has in your office, or work/life balance, or ethics. Get specific with it and tailor it to your own individual office.

Happy writing!

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