Thursday, December 24, 2009

Writing Job Descriptions

Writing Job Descriptions include summarizing job functions using the Internet and traditional methods.

The employer almost uses the job analysis to (at least) produce a job description. A job description is a written statement of what the worker actually does, now he or she does it, and what the job’s working conditions are. You use this information to write a job specification; this lists the knowledge abilities and skills required to perform the job satisfactorily.

There is no standard format for writing a job description. However most descriptions contain sections that cover

1) Job identification
2) Job summary
3) Responsibilities and duties
4) Authority of incumbent
5) Standards of performance
6) Working conditions
7) Job specifications.

Job Identification: The job identification section (on top) contains several types of information. The job title specifies the name of the job such as supervisor of data processing operations, marketing manager, or inventory control clerk. In the United States, the status under fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA status) identifies whether a job is exempt or non exempt. Under the Fair labor standards act, certain positions, primarily administrative and professional, are exempt from the act’s overtime wage provision. A comparable system does not exist in India though mentioning unionized and non-unionized status will help in quick identification of job status. Date is the date the job description was actually written.

There may also be a place to indicate who approved the description and perhaps a space that show the location of the job in terms of its facility / division and department / section. This section might also include the immediate supervisor’s title and information regarding salary and/or pay scale. Here provide space for the grade / level of the job, if there is such a category. For example, a firm may classify programmers as programmer II, programmer III, and so on.

Job summary:

The job summary should summarize the essence of the job, and include only its major functions or activities. Thus the “telesales rep” is responsible for selling college textbooks. For the job of materials manager, the summary might state that the materials manager purchases economically, regulates deliveries of, stores and distributes all materials necessary on the production line. For the job mailroom supervisor, the mailroom supervisor receives, sorts, and delivers all incoming mail properly and he or she handles all outgoing mail including the accurate and timely posting of such mail.

While it’s common to do so, include general statement like performs other assignments as required with care. Such statements do give supervisors more flexibility in assigning duties. Some experts, however state unequivocally that one item frequently found that should never be included in a job description is a cop-out clause like other duties as assigned since this leaves open the nature of the job and the people needed to staff it. However, to avoid any ambiguities in case the assignment does not work out, it’s advisable to make it clear in the job summary that the employer expects the job incumbent to carry out his or her duties efficiently attentively an conscientiously.


There may be a relationships statement (not in the example) which shows the jobholder’s relationships with others inside and outside the organization. For a human resource manager, such a statement might look like this:

Reports to: Vice president of employee relations:

Supervises: Human resource clerk, test administrator labor relations director and one secretary

Works with: all department managers and executive management

Outside the company: Employment agencies, executive recruiting firms, union representatives, state and federal employment offices, and various vendors.

7 Common Mistakes Job Seekers Do

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In the time it takes you to read this paragraph, the average recruiter will have plowed through six resumes. (We know; we timed one.) Want to increase the chances of your resume making it to the next round? Then don’t do any of these seven things, which recruiters say — more than anything — make them want to push the “shred” button.

(For more resume tips, check out our interactive critique of an actual resume.)

1. Apply for a job for which you are not remotely qualified
Many candidates believe the job hunt is a numbers game — drop enough resumes, and you’re bound to land something. But shotguns are for hunting pheasant, not finding jobs. The reality is that recruiters hate wasting time on resumes from unqualified candidates. Morgan Miller, an executive recruiter at StaffMark, recalls the security guard who applied to be a financial risk manager (maybe Lehman should have hired him), while Scott Ragusa at Winter, Wyman talks of the aerial photographer who sought out a position as a tax specialist.

“Sorting through unqualified resumes is frustrating, unproductive and puts an extra burden on staff,” says Katherine Swift, Senior Account Director at KCSA Strategic Communications in Natick, Mass. “It also makes it much more challenging to find the right candidate.” So the next time you’re thinking of blasting out resumes to all 60 of the job listings on that have the word “finance” in them , save your time (and that of the recruiters) and only apply for ones for which you’re qualified.

2. Include a lofty mission statement
More than ever, today’s savage job market is about the company, not the candidate. As such, mission or objective statements — particularly ones with an applicant’s hopes, dreams, and health insurance aspirations — will dispatch otherwise fine resumes to the circular file. Employers don’t care about how they can solve your problems — certainly not before they’ve met you and possibly not even after they’ve hired you. Instead, write an “objectives” statement that explains specifically how your skills and experience will help the company you’re applying to, not the other way around. And be very clear about what kind of job you’re seeking.

3. Use one generic resume for every job listing
To stand out amongst the sea of resumes that recruiters receive, yours must speak to each and every specific position, even recycling some of the language from the job description itself. Make it obvious that you will start solving problems even before you’ve recorded your outgoing voicemail message. Your CV or query letter should include a just touch of industry lingo — sufficient to prove you know your stuff but not so much that you sound like a robot. And it should speak to individual company issues and industry challenges, with specifics on how you have personally improved customer loyalty, efficiency, and profitability at past jobs, says workplace and performance consultant Jay Forte. Plus, each morsel should be on point.

“Think hard about how to best leverage each piece of information to your job search advantage,” says Wendy Enelow, a career consultant and trainer in Virginia. “Nothing in your resume should be arbitrary, from what you include in your job descriptions and achievement statements, to whether your education or experience comes first [recent grads may want to put education first] to how you format your contact information.”

4. Make recruiters or hiring managers guess how exactly you can help their client
Sourcing experts want to know — immediately — what someone can offer, and they won’t spend time noodling someone’s credentials. “Animal, vegetable or mineral? Doctor, lawyer or Indian chief?That’s what I’m wondering every time I open a resume. If it takes me more than a split second to figure this out, I feel frustrated,” says Mary O’Gorman, a veteran recruiter based in Brooklyn.

5. Don’t explain how past experience translates to a new position.
Though candidates should avoid jobs where they have no experience, they absolutely should pursue new areas and positions if they can position their experience effectively. A high school English teacher applying for new jobs, for example, can cite expertise in human resource management, people skills, record keeping, writing, and training, says Anthony Pensabene, a professional writer who works with executives.

“Titles are just semantics; candidates need to relate their ‘actual’ skills and experiences to the job they’re applying for in their resume,” Pensabene says. An applicant who cannot be bothered to identify the parallels between the two likely won’t be bothered with interviews, either.

6. Don’t include a cover letter with your resume
A cover letter should always accompany a resume — even if it’s going to your best friend. And that doesn’t mean a lazy “I’m _____ and I’m looking for a job in New York; please see my attached resume.” Says Lindsay Olson, a partner at Manhattan’s Paradigm Staffing: “I’d like to know why you are contacting me (a particular position, referral, etc.), a short background about yourself, and a career highlight or two. It’s important to attempt to set yourself apart from the competition.”

7. Be careless with details
Reckless job hunters rarely make for conscientious workers. As such, even promising resumes must abide by age-old dictums: typo-free, proper organization, and no embellishment. Susan Whitcomb, author of Resume Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer, says that almost 80 percent of HR managers she surveyed said they would dismiss otherwise qualified candidates who break these rules. She tells the story of one would-be employer who, when looking for an assistant, decided not to hire anyone because every resume she received contained typos.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Interesting Study

If you want to get a raise or a promotion, you might want to throw on a pair of heels and suck in that belly. Your looks can help--or hinder--your chances of getting a well-deserved promotion, regardless of qualifications, especially in a sour economy when advancements are few and hard to come by.
Women who advance most at work, studies agree, are more attractive, thinner, taller and have a more youthful appearance than their female colleagues who are promoted less often.
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In Pictures: Seven Easy Ways To Look Your Best At Work
A landmark study from Cornell University found that when white females put on an additional 64 pounds, her wages drop 9%. And according to a 2007 paper from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a statistically significant "wage penalty" for overweight and obese white women. ("Previous studies have shown that white women are the only race-gender group for which weight has a statistically significant effect on wages," according to the paper.) The obese take a bigger hit, with a wage loss of 12%.
Being large leads to negative stereotypes--thinking that person is sloppy, lazy or slow, for example--for women that just aren't true, says Bill Fabrey, a director of the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination.
Fabrey recounts incidences of several plus-size female colleagues who have gotten interviews with prospective employers only to be told the job had been filled once they showed up for an in-person interview.
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"There are interviewers who don't care [about weight], but those are not as plentiful as the other kind," he says.
Being average looking comes with a hefty price, too. The best-looking echelon of attractive females--the top one-third--make about 10% more annually than those in the bottom sixth of the genetic pool, according to research by Daniel Hamermesh, Ph.D., a professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin.
Just what makes for attractive? According to Hamermesh in a interview with CNN, "It's symmetry of features. ... But not too [attractive]. It's not perfect. If it's perfect, it's bland. There's got to be a little off, otherwise you lose interest." Apart from a balanced face--and good physical health--a woman's appeal is also reportedly in having a low waist-to-hip ratio.
And youth. A study done this year by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that some 73% of women felt a youthful appearance played a role in getting a job, getting promoted or keeping clients. Many cited difficult economic times as part of the reason--with fewer raises and promotions to be given, the better-looking are the ones advancing.
"In this bad economy, as people age, employers and colleagues perceive them as having less energy and being less effective" notes Gordon Patzer, Ph.D., a psychologist from Chicago who has studied looks for 30 years. "Being older in the workplace is looked at negatively," he adds.
Patzer says bleaching your teeth, wearing appropriate makeup or updating your hairstyle or wardrobe can take years off a person's look.
What's Behind Our Thinking?Various psychological reasons can answer why we choose to promote better-looking people and keep the rest behind. For ancestral humans, better-looking people were thought to be more productive and fecund, according to Patzer.
And, interestingly, able to bring home more food. From a psychological standpoint, Patzer says, "people of higher physical attractiveness are more persuasive, which is critical in the workplace."
That may be the reason women of short stature get the short end of the stick. Although there is no correlation between height and effectiveness or intelligence, a woman who is 5 feet 7 inches tall--well above the national female average of 5 feet, 3.5 inches--will make $5,250 more over the course of a year than a female co-worker standing 5 feet 2 inches.
"We like to look up to our leaders," says Patzer, noting that a subordinate is more likely to respond positively to a taller manager.
Malcolm Gladwell calls the behavior an unconscious prejudice, a prejudice you reach without even thinking. In his best-selling book Blink, he polled about half the country's top 500 CEOs and found that 58% were nearly 6 feet tall; in contrast, the average American male is 5 foot 9 inches tall.
Also, because most states don't have laws against weight or height discrimination--currently Michigan is the only state that includes either group as a protected category under anti-discrimination law--women stand underprotected.
"Either the judicial and legislative arm of the market have decided that's OK [to favor certain groups], or they've decided that trying to do something about it would be way too difficult," says Bill O'Brien, founding partner at Miller O'Brien Cummins, a Minneapolis firm that specializes in labor and employment law.
"On the subject of physical appearance, there is not much protection under employment statutes," he adds.
What Can You Do?In a competitive work environment, it is only natural to want to do everything possible to get an extra edge, but if you're thinking pricey cosmetic surgeries are the answer, you're mistaken. Women who go under the knife make an extra five cents per dollar they spend on the dangerous procedures, according to Hamermesh's research. "It's a terrible investment," he says.
Instead, Judy Jernudd, a leadership coach in Los Angeles, recommends honing certain psychological behaviors, like walking upright and with confidence, which will make you seem taller than someone who is slouched over or walking with her head down. It will also trick others into perceiving you as more physically attractive. Heels will also help, but not over an inch and a half, say most podiatrists.
Although there isn't a lot you can do to make yourself look thinner--wearing dark colors and streamlined clothes help--Jernudd does note that women with confidence always come across as thinner and better-looking. "A lot of it has to do with personality," she says.
So what about women who say looks shouldn't matter in the workplace?
"It shouldn't matter, but it does," says Jernudd. "It is competitive enough today. Why sabotage yourself by not giving it the best you can?"

Coping With Termination

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In the hours and days after you’ve been laid off, your emotional state tends to range from uncomfortable to devastated — but the way you handle yourself can either help you rebound or drive your career deeper into the ground. With economists predicting that the 10.2 percent unemployment rate will continue to climb before it plateaus early next year, it seems even more workers will soon be hearing words like “downsizing,” “staff reductions,” and “cutbacks.”

Regardless of the economic underpinnings, however, a layoff always feels personal. “We like to deny that we are expendable. So when we are told ‘we have to let you go,’ it feels like an assault,” says Katherine Crowley, a New York City-based psychotherapist and co-author of the book Working for You Isn’t Working for Me. She adds that when an employee experiences this slap in the face, he or she should avoid the natural inclination to slap back — either verbally or, it should go without saying, physically. “You never know who you will meet or need a reference from again. Exiting gracefully is one of the most important skills for someone who plans on building their career,” says Crowley.
Here’s how to handle your exit with aplomb.
1. Don’t Freak Out
While the deluge of layoffs means that everyone is on edge, it’s hard to tell exactly how you’ll react if you are called in to an invite-only party of three with your boss and an HR manager. But avoid showing anger or tears. “Keep cool and try not to take it personally. Try to treat it as a business decision, pure and simple,” says John M. McKee, a former executive at DirecTV who oversaw the hiring and firing of 3,000 people before founding his own Los Angeles-based career coaching practice.
“You are not going to change anyone’s mind by debating the reasons behind this decision, so you may as well try to accept what’s happening and make the best of it,” says McKee. Shake their hands and wish them the best — and they may shake your hand back in other ways: “They may be able to get a little more for you in your final package, or perhaps allow you to take your phone or notebook computer when you leave. You may also need a reference for your next job,” says McKee.
If you need more advice or room to vent, the pros say, be sure to seek out non-colleagues, a career coach, or other professional help. “Find a safe place with a therapist or friend to discuss your shame and terror,” suggests career coach Adele Scheele. “But don’t do it in front of the person who has just fired you.”
2. Negotiate Your Exit
Accepting your fate shouldn’t mean silent acquiescence, however. “Some people fail to use the moment when the other person is most vulnerable ... to ask for letters of reference, any outplacement service, extra insurance coverage, or moving costs,” says Scheele. She adds that you can also ask for your job back in the future, when the economy rebounds.
When one woman — she requested anonymity — was let go last year as the head of advertising sales in the Chicago branch of a major publishing company, she was both pleasant and persuasive. That paid off when she offered to stay a few extra days. “Besides the fact that I liked my [team], my reasoning was to be able to negotiate a better exit package,” she says.
Her company agreed to vest her 401(k) and make her last day the first of the next month, so she could get another month of health insurance — a date change that wound up saving her thousands of dollars. “I was laid off on August 4 and negotiated an official last day of September 2,” she says. “Thus I qualified for the stimulus package’s COBRA assistance, which was only available to those laid off after September 1,” she says. She adds: “A colleague of mine who was laid off the same day sent a nasty letter with demands. They called her and said, ‘We’re not negotiating. The exit packages are what they are.’”
3. Fine-Tune Your To-Do List
Instead of trying to finish all your work, find out what has to get done — you’ll leave behind a good impression with your old company if you don’t leave your former colleagues in the lurch. That said, remember that they’re just not your priority anymore. “I’ve seen people working nights and at home to ‘help’ an organization that just determined they are no longer required. My advice is if the company has decided it can’t keep you, start looking after your own needs first,” says McKee — even if that means interviewing during office hours.
4. Save Your Contacts
Whatever you do, don’t dawdle on downloading your address book. You’ll also want to get direct contact info for ex-colleagues whom you may have reached through an Outlook directory. “Your contacts may be your best lifeline back to employment, so start reaching out to them ASAP,” says McKee.
Thom Singer, 43, of Austin, Texas, says he didn’t take it personally when he lost his job in April. “Sometimes hard decisions have to be made, and you can point fingers or blame, or you can say ‘How can I make lemonade out of lemons?’” says Singer, who had been director of business development for a consulting firm.
Singer focused his energy on turning his on-the-side consulting and speaking business into a full-time gig. And his old company is now frequenting his new lemonade stand. His former employer “came back and asked if I would work with them for a few hours a month on PR. Friends, former employers, and co-workers have all referred me for both consulting and speaking opportunities,” says Singer.
5. Be Kind to Yourself
“It is traumatic to be laid off, particularly in this society where your work is your identity,” says Crowley. Exercising, eating right, and sleeping enough will help you look less like a wounded animal and more like a strong candidate at your upcoming job interviews. Try to enjoy your time off — go to a museum, the gym, spend time with your children. Crowley recommends building up your confidence by finding a forum to showcase your talents. It’s important, she says, to take action in the real world, by joining a networking group or working with a charity, even if you also have a Web site or blog. “I really believe that you need to get out and interact with people, too,” she says.
6. Update Your Networking Protocol
Networking isn’t new — and it certainly shouldn’t be a foreign concept to you if you’ve been given the old heave-ho. But what is new is the technology available to use for the purpose. “I immediately reached out to my networking circle by telephone, e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter,” says Singer, who adds that he didn’t write “I got laid off” but rather “As of today, I’m launching my own company.”
Whether you choose to publish the fact that you were let go or not, remember who may read it. “I always make sure my Facebook page is something I’d be comfortable showing an employer,” says Sheri Rice Bentley, 41, of Madison, Wisconsin, who lost her PR job in April. “A lot of the people at the agency were under the age of 30, and they didn’t [seem to] know that,” says Bentley, who adds that she used Twitter to let folks know that she was available for freelance work.