Job function: definition, features, benefits and examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The success of a business depends on how well the employees perform their individual and collective tasks. Employees function at their best when they understand their roles and how they can impact the organisation. A job function details these core responsibilities of an employee and serves as a guide to meeting organisational expectations. In this article, we explain what a job function is, define its features, highlight the significance to the recruitment process of an organisation and show you examples in various fields.

What is a job function?

A job function is a comprehensive compilation of duties and competencies of the ideal employee for a position. It includes the core duties management expects an employee to perform. Employers and human resources teams take their time to research, conceptualise and highlight the contents of this list as they make it.

Related: How to write a job description template

Features of a job function

Here are some of the features of a successful job function:

It is brief

Brevity is key in creating a successful role description. The function typically consists of brief descriptions of the responsibilities management may assign to an employee. It is a summary or list of duties, often in no particular order of importance.

It highlights responsibilities

The purpose is to make an employee aware of their role. They often state an employee's duties. For instance, when you read a job advert, you can identify the function by viewing a section highlighting the various responsibilities of the employee.

The public has access

Job adverts are usually public knowledge, especially for new employees. An organisation writes the job advert an applicant views before applying for a job, so it's important that this information is available to the public so the best candidates can apply. Also, they're public information to ensure transparency and gain legal protection against any claim of discrimination.

It forms part of the job description

The function is in the job description for a role, especially when the position is vacant. The job description for any role consists of various elements, including the job title, qualification and skill requirement, working conditions and job function. It is the part of a job description that highlights the duties of the employee.

It comprises simple, formal grammar

The function is usually easy to read and understand. Employers write them in simple grammar to avoid ambiguity and convey their intentions for the role. Most job adverts have a high readability potential.

Related: Forensic psychologist job profile

Why is a job function necessary?

Including the function of a job is vital to help employees and their employer set goals, know their boundaries and maintain transparency. Here are a few reasons it is important:

To prepare applicants for the task ahead

The description gives an applicant a vivid understanding of the tasks an employee performs upon getting the job. By knowing the responsibilities ahead, an applicant can prepare for the experience while applying for the job. Knowing what the job entails before employment can afford an applicant time to acquire knowledge about the role. It may lead to studying more on particular areas of the discipline, seeking counsel from experts or devising a plan to learn quickly on the job.

To inform applicants of the employer's expectations

Employers generally have expectations and goals for every employee or department in their organisation, including the new employees. Knowing these expectations is not possible unless the employer communicates them. Examining the description or function can also give you a hint of what the employer expects from you, and it can help you prepare for the screening or interview process.

To provide legal backing for employers

Certain laws protect the rights of individuals and ensure that employers do not discriminate against an applicant. By highlighting the responsibilities, an organisation publicises its criteria for selecting or not selecting a candidate for employment. Doing this can provide legal protection for an organisation. It shows that successful applicants met the requirements for the job.

It can form part of the screening process

Accurate job descriptions can help reduce the number of applicants for a position. It may list responsibilities that only individuals with the vital knowledge, experience and qualifications for the role can perform. When applicants see this, they know if they qualify for the position. Although some who doubt their suitability for the role may apply, you can reduce this by including a description of the role and responsibilities.

To justify an employee's position and salary

Many roles are vital to an organisation's success. Management may pay those in these positions higher than other employees. Also, some responsibilities require a higher level of commitment, expertise and experience. Although management has no obligation to pay all staff equally, employees may feel undervalued when they notice their colleagues earn higher. By clearly defining the job, the employee can justify the salary, terms of employment and benefits of the position.

It helps employees know the limits of their duties

The duties of an employee in an organisation are numerous. If the role is not clearly defined, an employee may work less or more than necessary. A description and list of duties ensure that an employee knows what their primary duties are, and it can allow them to refuse responsibilities outside of their role, especially when they're not mandatory. Working according to your specific responsibilities can help you focus on relevant tasks, improve your skills and save energy.

To help set goals for employees and conduct future appraisals

Highlighting the role of a prospective employee enables the employer to set goals for them. It also makes it easier to perform future assessments and performance reviews and can serve as a guideline for meeting job expectations. When an employee expertly performs the duties listed, they can meet their individual and collective goals.

Related: An operational manager's job profile

Examples in various fields

For a better understanding of what a job function is, familiarise yourself with what it can look like for different professions. These examples show what it entails and how you can identify it:

Duties of a babysitter

Here is a typical example of what to find in a job advert for a babysitter:

  • Feed the children when they are hungry.

  • Call emergency numbers in case of an emergency.

  • Keep children away from strangers, electrical appliances and animals.

  • Ensure children are no more than a few metres away from you.

  • Help children with their homework.

  • Read bedtime stories to children before putting them to bed.

  • Clean the dining table after children finish their meals.

  • Change their clothes when they are dirty.

Duties of a teacher

Anyone applying for a role in teaching may encounter a job advert similar to this:

  • Maintain a record of the names, age, address, medical history, phone number of parents or guardians of the pupils.

  • Teach pupils subjects according to the curriculum.

  • Set assignment questions or quizzes for pupils.

  • Recommend study materials for students.

  • Grade assignments, tests and performances in extracurricular activities.

  • Document the progress of students.

  • Identify struggling and stable students.

  • Provide or suggest possible solutions to those struggling with school work.

  • Address parents on specific matters regarding the school, pupil and other areas of improvement.

Duties of a football coach

Football coaches perform many responsibilities for the team, players and themselves. These are the contents of a typical job advert for a football coach:

  • Form a suitable playing pattern for the football team.

  • Instil discipline and cohesion within the team.

  • Manage each player to bring out the best in their ability.

  • Attend press conferences before and after each match.

  • Approve fines for players and staff who break ground rules.

  • Grant permission for players and staff to take time off work.

  • Select the starting lineup before the game and make substitutions to impact an ongoing match.

  • Work with the medical and nutrition experts concerning the fitness and health of the players.

  • Identify the weaknesses and strengths of the team and individual players.

  • Advise the board on which players can join or leave the team and which players need a contract extension.

Duties of a lawyer

Here is an example of some duties typically found in a job advert for a lawyer:

  • Present argument and represent clients in court.

  • Interview persons of interest, clients and suspects of a case for vital information.

  • Interpret legal documents and translate legal jargon into simple terms for clients.

  • Draft legal briefs and prepare legal documents for clients.

  • Negotiate settlements out of court.

  • Prepare documents for court dates, including exhibits, statements and confessions.

  • Supervise a team of junior lawyers, legal secretaries and paralegals.

  • Prepare clients for a court hearing.

  • Examine and cross-examine witnesses in the courtroom following legal standards.

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