Career Link

Tips for Writing a Good Job Description

It is not always easy to find the right person to fill a security position. The first step often seems the easiest for hiring organizations, but it shouldn’t be. When HR asks you for an internal job description to assist them in determining the appropriate compensation for a position you would like to fill, you might feel confident in jotting down some broad notes on responsibilities and qualifications and then passing that along. However, writing a job description for HR should take careful consideration and effort, and when it is done correctly, it starts your hiring process off on a very strong footing. When it is done incorrectly, you may end up hiring a position that pays much less than you had hoped, making it difficult for you to attract the level of talent you feel is necessary for success.

Think about how the position will fare in the following categories:

• Mission: You should be able to summarize the position in three sentences or less. This requires a clear understanding of the mission or purpose you want the job to serve. The summary should not get into the details of the duties and responsibilities of the position. Instead, those duties should be condensed into four to eight bullet points that expand upon the summary.
• Reporting: Who will this position report to? Consider not only the title it will report to, but the number of steps removed from the president, CEO or COO. How closely supervised will this position be? Will the new employee need to gain approval for all actions and report all results, or will he or she be left more or less alone to pursue the goals of the position? These considerations will provide a clearer understanding of the level of influence the new position is expected to have.
• Responsibility: Traditionally, a job description will list the number of employees that will report to the position, but in today’s business economy, it is also important to consider the number of reporting contractors and outsourced employees the position will manage. Also, think about the scope of functions these employees represent. Will the new position manage only security staff, or will Facilities, Procurement, Safety and Environmental also report to it? Also, is the position’s supervisory capacity limited to a single location, or does it cover numerous offices or facilities? Is it international or domestic? The answers to these questions will help provide a more comprehensive and accurate view of the positions overall level of responsibility.
• Impact: How much impact will this position have, both inside and outside the organization? If a failure to accomplish the goal of the position or a shirking of duties would result in small losses, the impact may be relatively low. But if it would result in large monetary damages, damage to the brand and compliance fines, the impact would be high.
Considering each of these elements while writing a job description will help HR determine the appropriate compensation for your new position. In turn, when it comes time to adapt your internal job description into a shorter job advertisement, it will help you reach the right candidates.

Jerry Brennan is co-author of the book “Security Careers” and founder of Security Management Resources, an executive search firm dedicated to corporate security,. He is a content expert faculty member for the Security Executive Council (SEC). “Security Careers” may be purchased through the SEC Web site ( Ask Mr. Brennan your own career questions at the SEC’s Faculty Advisor:
Marleah Blades is senior editor for the SEC. For information about the SEC, visit