How to Write a Good Job Description

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By Amanda Belarmino

Remember when Rupert Holmes asked the famous musical question, “Do you like piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain?” The songwriter was trying to attract the right kind of person with the tone of their personal ad. The same idea holds true when you are writing a job description for your company. You want to attract the right kind of person to your company and give them a reasonable idea of what to expect from the job. With the high cost of attracting and retaining top talent, a good job description for managerial positions is not only the first step in the recruiting process, but an important tool in retaining the talent you have within your organization. A good management job description will give your team members goals to strive for and help them accept new managers.

What are the components of a good job description? First, the job title should be clear and consistent with industry standards. If you want an accounts receivables manager, then your job title should include that information. Second, the description should include a comprehensive description of the job duties. But what is the best way to understand the job duties? The best way is to look at the job from four points of view:

  • Guests and vendors
  • Hotel management
  • Direct reports (employees)
  • Coworkers

Include the expectations of these four groups in your job description. Too often, even in line-level jobs, we focus on only one aspect of a job. For example, all front desk agent job positions emphasize guest service; but, do they accurately describe the duties outlined on the front desk checklist? Your accounts receivables manager must have a knowledge of accounting, but does your current job description also describe their role in making collections calls, managing team members, or creating training material for the front desk about proper billing procedures for third-party reservations?

The third and fourth parts of the job description can be crucial in the acceptance of new managers within your organization and can help your current team members grow. The third element is the requirements for the job. While most candidates realize these are minimum requirements, make sure you are including your true minimum requirements and the desired qualifications. This becomes a tricky proposition when you are trying to prevent unintentional discrimination while making sure you are truly attracting top talent. Does this position require a CPA, or would it just be nice to have? How many years of experience do you expect the candidate to have, and what type of experience is acceptable? Remember, setting up the qualifications will help your internal candidates set goals for their performance and understand why an external candidate may have been selected.

The fourth requirement is a description of your company, your mission statement, and your goals. While it is easy to view this as a way of marketing to external candidates (because it is), it is also a great way to help your internal candidates look at the big picture. They may have become so accustomed to their day-to-day duties that the goals of the organization are no longer in the forefront of their minds. Just as the narrator in the “piña colada” song ended up finding that his own lady was the person he was looking for, a well-written job description may lead you to find out that one of your own team members is the candidate you are seeking.

Our best advice is to write the job description as a team. If you are an HR professional, make sure you get the expertise of individuals in the department as well as management. If you are a department head, consult your HR department for their expertise. Finally, consult people outside your property to review your description, such as colleagues at your sister properties or academic professionals. Another point of view can find things you may have overlooked!

Looking for a sample job description? Check out these Accounting Club Job Descriptions, compiled by the HFTP Americas Research Center and reviewed by the HFTP Club Advisory Council.

HFTP is currently collecting example job descriptions for technology professionals for all verticals of the hospitality industry: clubs, hotels, resorts, spas, etc.  If you have examples to share, please send them to Tanya Venegas at the HFTP Americas Research Center by emailing them to tanya.venegas@hftp.org.

Amanda Mapel Belarmino is a Ph.D. candidate at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. Her research areas include revenue management and peer-to-peer accommodations, and she had published peer reviews articles in Current Issues in Tourism and The International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management. Her undergraduate degree is in hotel administration from Cornell University, and her Masters of Science is in hospitality management from the University of Houston. She has 20 years of management experience is casinos, hotels and restaurants, including positions with the Arizona Biltmore, Caesar’s Entertainment, Hyatt Hotels and McAlister’s Deli.

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