Development of a compelling job description is the first challenge to hiring the right candidate for any security job. It is a critical process that accurately specifies the responsibilities of the role, outlines required education, skills and competencies, and is used to grade and level the position. The result is an accurate depiction of the candidate you require together with salary, bonus and other incentives that are correctly leveled.

Compensation departments use various methods that generally fall into four categories: Ranking, Classification, Factor Comparison and Point Method. You should become familiar with which approach your organization uses and have a clear understanding of their compensation philosophy. A position that is not structured correctly or is undervalued in the market will make it difficult for you to attract the level of talent necessary for success.

Badly written job descriptions generally include a laundry list of activities followed by knowledge or education requirements that are not relevant to achievement of the stated responsibilities. Descriptions like these are created with the idea that the more tasks and activities and requirements there are, the higher the salary grade. Unfortunately, more is not better in the case of job descriptions.

These are the categories you should consider when creating a job description:

Primary Purpose: You should be able to summarize the position in three sentences or less. This means you must have a clear understanding of the mission or purpose you want the job to serve. The summary should not get into details of duties and responsibilities of the position.

Duties & Responsibilities: Identify five to eight primary duties and estimate the percentage of time the role will focus on each. You should also be able to specify the degree of supervision related to each. Consider using the scale below to level the amount of autonomy given to the role:

  1. The work activity is performed at the time and within the scope set by the Supervisor (Work Guidance).
  2. Accomplishment of the activity is discussed jointly with the Supervisor and a decision is reached as to what is to be done and the timetable for doing it (Immediate Supervision).
  3. The incumbent develops a plan for the scope of the task and a timetable for completing it. The Supervisor then reviews this plan and timing and gives approval before inception (General Supervision).
  4. The incumbent develops a plan for the scope of the task and a timetable for completing it; then executes the plan while keeping their manager regularly advised after the fact of what is being done, critical developments and progress made (Direction).
  5. The incumbent develops a plan for the scope of the activity and a timetable for completing it; then executes the plan and is responsible to their manager only for the end results obtained.

Reporting: Who will this position report to? Consider the title it will report to and the number of steps removed from the President, COO, CEO and other members of the senior leadership team. Positioning sends a message regarding how the role is valued in the organization. Do not forget to consider the functional reporting relationship as well.

Scope of Responsibility: Traditionally a job description will list the number of employees that will report to the position. In today’s business economy, it is important to also consider the number of contractors and outsourced employees the position will manage. What is the breadth of the role? Are there multiple sites, regions or countries? Do not forget to include the scale and level of authority granted relative to expense and capital budgets.

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.

Internal & External Relationships: Be able to identify and indicate the titles of individuals with whom the position will have frequent interactions inside the company. Know the agencies, level and type of activities the position is expected to engage with externally.

Consider each of these elements as key to writing an accurate, well-structured job description. It will help your HR department to accurately level compensation for the position and will result in a successful recruitment effort.