How to write a successful job description

How to write a successful job description

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As a restaurant manager, many of your responsibilities revolve around your employees. From getting them nonslip work shoes to handling raises, reprimands, day-off requests and more, your job is focused on ensuring that your employees are safe, happy and productive. Job descriptions may not seem like a big deal outside of acquiring new workers, but they have a lot more to do with your bottom line than you may think.

As Restaurant Hospitality magazine pointed out, incomplete and out-of-date job descriptions can lead to discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuits. In the restaurant industry, job duties listed in the job description also determine if an employee is entitled to receive tips. The U.S. Small Business Administration explained that these important documents also help attract the right job candidates, describe an employee's job or position, outline performance expectations, job training, job evaluation and career advancement, and offer a reference point for compensation decisions. Needless to say, getting them right is crucial. Here's how to ensure that your restaurant's job descriptions hit the mark.

Gather information
The first step is to round up relevant information that will help you write detailed descriptions of every job in your restaurant. According to Restaurant Hospitality, there are three approaches to this:

  1. The top-down or fresh start method: Recommended for new restaurants or positions. The nature of the work is defined based on the restaurant's mission statement, goals and objectives.
  2. The job inventory approach: Recommended for existing establishments. Relevant information is gathered by conducting an audit of tasks performed by current employees.
  3. The job element method: Recommended for existing establishments. Involves identifying the characteristics of satisfied workers.

Microsoft also recommended looking at existing job descriptions and job analysis information within your establishment. Or, look to descriptions used in high-quality salary surveys, job postings in newspapers and periodicals, job database websites, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Dictionary of Occupational Titles. This will give you a better idea of how your job descriptions should look.

Hone your language
The SBA stressed the importance of using correct, easy-to-understand language in the job description. To do this, start by structuring your sentences in classic verb/object and explanatory phrases, being sure to use the present tense of verbs. You should also avoid biased terminology by using "he/she" or writing in a way that doesn't require gender pronouns, like using "the employee." Finally, avoid using words that are subject to interpretation, like "frequently," "some" or "several."

Include the essentials
Most job descriptions include the following points:

  • Job title
  • Title of immediate supervisor
  • Job summary stating the purpose of the job
  • Key duties and responsibilities
  • Minimum job requirements (education, licenses or certifications, experience, personality traits, skills)
  • Physical requirements.

Add a disclaimer
It's important to add a disclaimer to the job description to avoid legal issues. As Restaurant Hospitality noted, it's legal to require an employee who is 18 or older to perform work outside of the job description, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Something as simple as, "May be asked to perform related duties not specifically included in the job description," is sufficient.

Look it over and get it approved
Once you have everything down on paper, go over your writing and make sure that there are no errors or omissions. When it's clean and thorough, have it approved by human resources staff members or other members of management. If there's no review process, Microsoft recommended creating one yourself.

Review and update
Once or twice a year, look over the job descriptions to make sure that they're still accurate and relevant. Job duties and responsibilities will change as your restaurant grows, and it's your job to make sure that the descriptions reflect all the changes. Doing so will help ensure that your business continues to run smoothly and your employees are familiar with their roles.

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