3 good reasons to fix your job description now

Review can provide insights that benefit you and your security program


You see a job posting. A colleague refers you. A headhunter calls you. One way or another you end up reviewing a job description and decide, “yes, I can do this.” You check out the company—it looks good. A few interviews later: you’re hired.

Fast forward to now. Can you even remember what the job description said? Once settled in, day-to-day job demands were unceasing, and many factors both internal and external have acted over time to shape your thoughts, your work and your security program.

Opportunities to think strategically and critically, and to take a long-term look at things both forward and back, are much rarer these days due to the constant bombardment of email, text, instant messages and phone calls.

One value of a job description review is that it provides a point from which to elevate oneself up to a high-level view of things, with consequent realizations and insights that can benefit you and your security program.

Here are three very good reasons to take a good look at that original job description now, each one with a simple but enlightening step to help you benefit from what you see in your review:

Note: If your responsibilities include safety as well as security, then read "security and safety" where just security is mentioned in this article.

1). Perspective. Taking a close look at that original job description will call to mind the original circumstances and the thoughts and ideas you had at the time. You’ll see how much has been accomplished (or not), and how hard or easy it was to do certain things.

You’ll see how the various aspects of the resource picture have changed: budgets, personnel, key stakeholders, and executive support. You’ll see how the demands on you and your department have changed, and what that likely portends for the future. It’s an enlightening exercise to re-examine the actual starting point, and compare that to today’s picture.

  • What are the key changes that have taken place (good or bad) for you, your department and the organization relating to its security and your position in it?
  • Write them down and explain their impacts and relevance to security. What were the security strengths and weaknesses back then, for you in your new position, for your security department, and for your organizations risk profile and risk awareness? Contrast that with current strengths and weaknesses.

2). Reality. It’s likely your job description was written by someone with less knowledge of the organization’s actual security needs than what you have now. Amazingly, one practitioner discovered that 50 percent of the job description text was completely irrelevant!

But what’s more common is to find that the description is very generic and not specifically tuned to the organization, and is task- and responsibility-oriented, written as if security is a static function that just needs someone to “run things”. In truth, the real picture is very dynamic and usually requires active leadership in many more directions than the job description conveys. Risk orientation is often minimal or absent.

  • Given where things stand right now, what kind of job description would it take to accurately capture what has unfolded since then? It’s an enlightening exercise to examine the actual starting point, and craft a realistically accurate job description that if fulfilled would take you, your department, and your organization’s security profile to where they are now.

3). Vision. However much things have changed since “day one”, they are likely to change even more going forward. Now is the time to clarify that vision, starting with the most key element of your security program—you!

  • What is your vision for how things should be a year from now? Put that in writing and then craft a job description that if fulfilled would bring you, your department, and your organization’s security profile to it can and should be a year from now.

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