Become an Instant Pro at Writing Job Descriptions

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As an employer, well-written job descriptions help you hire the right people and make fair employment decisions you can defend in court. Descriptions Now! 4.0, by KnowledgePoint, is a program that helps you write effective job descriptions. With its library of over 3,500 jobs and easy-to-use question and answer format, it guides you through the entire process; writes the text for you; and offers up-to-date human resources advice. Founded in 1987, KnowledgePoint has developed other programs for managing human resources: Performance Now--writing effective employee reviews; Policies Now--writing, publishing and maintaining a customized employee handbook of personnel policies; and Desktop Training Series--management training. Descriptions Now! Price: $129. The KnowledgePoint Web site is well worth a visit to find out about other products and other information valuable to managers.
Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced PC users. The program is user friendly and could be used by anyone with basic computer knowledge. Excellent program for PC users who don't like to type as the program types out a variety of information for you.

Define Jobs Fast

  • Complete library of job titles and essential duties;
  • Over 1,000 new jobs;
  • Advanced search capabilities help you find jobs easily;
  • Mix and match duties to create hybrid positions;
  • Internet link to up-to-the-minute job library;
  • Track and manage completed job descriptions.

Hire the Right People

  • Context-sensitive advice gives you all you need to know about defining jobs and hiring the right people;
  • Employment Ad Editor helps write effective ads;
  • Web links to top online recruiting sites like Espan.

Write Legally Appropriate Job Descriptions

  • Step-by-step process and HR advice help you cover all legal bases;
  • Intelli-Text technology takes your input and automatically writes sections on qualifications, physical demands and work environment;
  • Exempt/non-exempt tester helps determine overtime eligibility;
  • Improved word processor for easy editing and customization;
  • Action verb thesaurus helps you find the right words;
  • Intranet-ready--converts your job descriptions to HTML format instantly.

Installation and User Manual. The installation is quick and easy. If you are a user of a previous version of Descriptions Now, you can convert your data during installation or run the conversion program later. Also, during installation, the program identifies your browser. The manual is thorough and readable, without technical jargon. It also is full of information and guidelines on how to write a job description and its sections.

Interface. The interface is clean with menu bars and toolbars at the top. The middle of the screen is your work area for the job description. The menu bar at the top of the window provides access to all the program functions. The toolbars are just beneath the menu bar in the Descriptions Now window. They can be displayed or hidden if you need more room. You can drag each of the toolbars to dock them in different locations on the screen. There are two types of toolbars:

  1. The Standard toolbar on the left is used for common tasks such as opening job descriptions or making text bold.
  2. The Special toolbar on the right is used for more specialized tasks, such as writing sections or accessing Internet links.

Help. Descriptions Now provides a variety of help options. You can access Help for program functions and Advice, which gives you more detailed information on the human resources aspects of using the program from the menu bar. There is also context-sensitive Help and Advice accessed through the toolbar or F1 and F2 keys. Information will appear about how to use the currently open window or dialog box.

Creating a Job Description. The process is very easy. The job descriptions in the Descriptions Now Job Library can be used as a base for creating your own job descriptions or you can use one you have created and saved in the program.When you create a new job description you have several methods for searching the library: searching by job title and summary text; searching by job title only; searching by summary only; searching by job category; and searching by industry. Category searching is useful when the job is not specific to an industry, when you are not sure of the job title, and when you want to peruse a number of similar jobs for ideas. Industry searching is useful when you are looking for a job description in a specific industry. For this review, I searched for the job description of Legal Secretary, using job category. It was very easy to find, and within a few minutes and with a few clicks of the mouse I had the start of my job description. It contained the job title and suggested text for the Summary section and the Essential Duties and Responsibilities section. The program leaves the remaining sections blank and will write them for you after you answer questions related to each section. There are 4 buttons on the toolbar that give you access to the questions: Qualifications; Supervisory Responsibilities; Physical Demands; and Work Environment. The Physical Demands and Work Environment sections are straightforward. The Qualifications section has five subsections for which you will need to answer questions. And the Supervisory section has questions relating to whether the job involves direct supervision of employees, supervision of subordinate supervisors, or no supervisory responsibilities at all. I then used these buttons to have the program write the remainder of my job description.

Editing. After creating a job description, you can edit it. Descriptions Now allows you to modify, copy and paste, format, find and replace, and spell check text. There is also an online Action Verb Thesaurus to help with wording. When you are editing a job description from the library, you are editing a copy only, not the original job description. You can have multiple jobs open at the same time and copy and paste appropriate text from one job description to another. You can also copy text from a document created outside of Descriptions Now.

Customizing the Job Description Format. You can customize the program to meet your organization's specific needs. After you have set up your preferences, all subsequent job descriptions you create will conform to those specifications.You can also customize some of the following: adding your logo; include or exclude fields in the Job Information section; select the other sections you want to appear on all job descriptions, then rename and reorder them; customize explanatory text; customize physical demands and work environment lists; add Comments section; and format the default page layout and font.

Managing Job Descriptions. Descriptions Now has a variety of features that help you manage your job descriptions:

  1. Questionnaire--you can create a printable questionnaire form for gathering information pertinent to the job.
  2. Reports--you can run reports to monitor your job descriptions.
  3. Exemption Tester--the tester helps you with some of the issues in determining FLSA exemption from overtime requirements.
  4. Employment Ad Editor--after creating a job description, you can use the Ad Editor to post the description on the Internet.
  5. Updating Job Library--you can constantly update your information by accessing the Descriptions Now Web site.
  6. Descriptions Now WebLinks--this feature gives you an immediate connection to a comprehensive range of job description-related information on the Internet.
Descriptions Now! is a specialized program. It might not appeal to you if you are not in management, but if you have a use for its features, it is a gem of a program. The program guides you step-by-step through the process of creating a job description. And the manual gives you additional information in writing sections.

With the program Descriptions Now! 4.0, you receive, free of charge, the following products and services listed below:

  • Internet job posting with RecruitUSA (1st job posting free);
  • Background check from CIC Corporation;
  • Access to a regularly updated job library on the Internet (6 months subscription free);
  • Access to an online performance review-writing tool (30 day subscription free).
Processor: 486 based computer
Operating System: Windows 3.1x/95/NT
Memory: 8MB (16MB recommended)
Hard Disk Space: 19MB (Network installation requires 23MB
VGA or better monitor

Scanner: Hewlett Packard ScanJet 6250C Professional Series
Web Page Editor: Symantec Visual Page
Graphics: Alien Skin Eye Candy 3.0