SURVEY SAYS – Do You Have a Job Description?

February 25, 2009 ( - For most of the jobs in my career, I've had a job description.

Not always a terribly accurate job description, of course (my jobs have tended to “mutate”) – and frequently the job description that did exist came about only because I had been “forced” to write it myself (there’s opportunity in that, of course).  

This week I asked readers if they had a job description – and if that job description was (still) accurate.  

As for the first part of the question – well, there were more with them than not; a full 58.8% did, in fact.   Roughly one-in-eight ( 11.8% ) said that they “technically” had a job description, and 8.2% said they “weren’t sure.”  

However, a full one-in-five – 21.2% – said they did not have a job description.

I did a little functional breakout of the same question, trying to see if certain jobs among our readers were less (or more) likely to have those descriptions.   The percentages get a little thin for some of the jobs – but suffice it to say that those in treasury were more likely to have one than those in HR – but that HR was a lot more likely to have them than were recordkeepers, consultants, or financial advisers.   Attorneys tended to fall in between treasury and HR, by the way.

As for if that job description was (still) accurate, a plurality - 30.6% - said it was, "for the most part."   One in ten were able to say "yes", a comparable 9.4% said "of course, I wrote it" - and roughly 6% said their job description was "technically" accurate.

On the other hand, 12.9% said "you're kidding, right?" (a group that included the reader who said, "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! a job description? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! thank you, I love to start my day with some humor" ), 9.4% said "not really," and the rest said "no."   The "rest", of course, excluding the one-in-five who did not have a job description to be inaccurate.

And that brings us to this week's verbatims; everything from the reader who said their jobs were:

"…a little bit of everything -- VP of Finance & Administration. This includes responsibility for accounting, investments, HR, benefits and facilities"... to the reader who was "Manager of HRIS; support payroll, compensation, benefits, employee relations and management self service applications," the reader who said they were responsible for "Whatever arises during the course of the day that nobody else wants to touch. The job "description" changes every time the phone rings.."

"MY entire job description is "Everything that is even vaguely related to your job title. Other duties as assigned". It has always been perfectly accurate."

"When you add "other duties as assigned" then you have the perfect job description."

"Absolutely, and it can be summed up in one word... gopher."

"Of course, I do. Nevertheless, the several pages of "fluff n' stuff" boils down to five very critical words "...and other duties as assigned."

"Basically no, because I no longer have a job....."

"Job Descriptions are a bit of a joke. Basically it all boils down to the item labeled "and other duties as assigned" because no jobs are static."

"…unless you count "whatever lands in my in-box, on my voice mail, or in my e-mail" to be done..."

"But one of my annual goals is "full competency in areas of responsibility outlined in job description". So I guess I have achieved this. How can anyone prove that I haven't?"

"It was written by the HR department. They have no idea what my entire department does, and our job descriptions reflect that."

"Originally I did, and still do, however, as things change, as they always do, I have learned that once you work on something, it becomes yours. Maybe that is why my mother was always saying not to touch things."

"The parts of my job description that don't apply any more are the ones I worked at making not apply."

"I recently joined my company (through acquisition). My company is very young and had "zero" hr policies, job descriptions, training programs and a benefit program that is unique. I get to fix all that. And to think I wanted to retire in the next 7 years . . ."

But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who said, "Well, I'm listed as the Attorney/Compliance Consultant for a 3-office TPA firm, but the description is a bit vague. It is part firefighter, part ambassador, part lawyer, and total multitasker. I'm considering getting cloned."

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!