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Job description: Tips on content & structure + samples

Applicants from the job advertisement or employees from their employment contract know a job description. The job description is also an instrument when looking for a job and "discreet" applications. Here it serves as a substitute for the job reference or if you want to keep the name of your current employer secret. Professionally structured, you show which tasks, projects and activities are part of your experience and speak for you as an employee. Tips and strategies on how to add a job description to your application and increase job opportunities ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Job description definition

You will come across job descriptions again and again in your everyday work. You have different tasks - content-related and legal. In detail:

  • Job description in job advertisements
    When companies formulate job offers on job boards, there is usually a block of text that describes exactly what the tasks of the advertised position include. This is how applicants find out whether the position appeals to them - and whether they are up to the challenges.
  • Job description in the employment contract
    Here the job description is an essential part of the job description (see box below). In this way, in addition to the activities to be performed, the employer also defines the grouping of the position in the organization or in the organizational chart: superiors and deputies, responsibility and powers. Employees are obliged to perform the tasks set out in the employment contract. The job description is therefore legally binding. If the job description also contains a “transfer reservation”, the employer can also assign other tasks to employees.
  • Job description in the job reference
    A comprehensive description of the previous activities of the (ex) employee can also be found in the interim reference and job reference. It is kept purely factual, factual and neutral. In the case of a qualified job reference, this is followed by the evaluation and assessment of the employee's performance and social behavior. This is where the grades and dreaded secret codes in the certificate are stuck.

Application: job description instead of job reference?

If you want to change jobs, you need one to three job references in addition to a cover letter and curriculum vitae for “complete application documents”. Stupid if the current employer should not notice anything about the application. The job description closes precisely this gap.

With the informative value of an interim reference or job reference it cannot include the job description. If the certificate is issued by the supervisor or employer, this has a different status and a higher level of credibility for HR managers and potential employers than the self-written job description. It therefore remains only an emergency solution. BUT: It also has some advantages ...

Advantages of the job description

  • relevance
    In the job description you can go into detail about your experience and qualifications. For reasons of space, this is often too short in the certificate. Even more: You can write the job description individually for each application - and thus emphasize the knowledge that speaks most for you.
  • discretion
    An interim or job reference clearly shows who your current employer is. If the future employer wants to check this information, he can easily call them. That could be embarrassing. You can use a job description to disguise the current company and apply very discreetly.
  • Appreciation
    The job description helps to round off and sharpen your profile. It is clear to every experienced HR manager that you are secretly applying with it. OK then! Because in the subtext it resonates so immediately that you are applying from a position that has not been terminated. This increases your market value and your negotiating position.
  • Time saving
    You can also use the job description to bridge the gap. For example, because the current employer is taking too long to issue the interim reference or job reference. In order to still be able to apply in the meantime, mention - for example by "PS" in the cover letter - that you are still waiting for the certificate and will be happy to submit it as soon as it is available.

TIP: Ask for confidentiality!

If you want to carry out your job search without the knowledge of your current employer, you should also ask for confidentiality in the cover letter. A formulation for this could, for example, be: “PS: As I am currently in an employment relationship that has not been terminated, I would ask you to treat this application confidentially. Please only call me back after 8 p.m. at the number given. "

Job description, content & structure

The job description has the highest relevance for HR professionals. A study by the Ernst Abbe University in Jena found that 85 percent of those surveyed mainly read the job description in the job reference - more than the closing formula (61 percent). In order for it to be convincing, the job description should contain the following content and information:

  • Current job with job description
  • Official job title
  • Duration of activity (duration of employment)
  • Contents of the employment contract and additional regulations
  • Actual work tasks
  • Powers and responsibilities
  • Objectives, achievements and successes
  • Required competencies, skills, qualifications
  • Evaluation of the activity (e.g. from employee appraisals)

With all the detailed details, the job description contains all the essential information that is relevant for a potential employer.

Job description structure

When setting up the job description, you should use the classic job reference as a guide. That gives the whole thing an "official" look. Simply write “job description” as the heading. You can add an explanatory line under the heading:

My job as _____ at _____ AG.

If you do not want to name the employer for the reasons mentioned, you can alternatively write:

My work as _____ in the _____ industry.

Then you should describe your tasks in as much detail as possible. As in the tabular curriculum vitae, this works in sections among each other. For example like this:

Quality assurance project manager
From MM / YYYY to MM / YYYY I led a team of 10. My task was to coordinate the _____ project and to work out a solution for the _____ task with my team in less than two weeks. We were able to reduce the error rate by 14 percent within ten days.

If you want to name a lot of activities and projects, you can formulate them more briefly in key words and list them. It's a matter of taste. The main thing is that the job description remains clear and the relevant information can be seen at a glance.

Job description model & example

When writing and formulating the job description, you can also use the passage in your employment contract as a guide. The decisive factor is that you choose: The job description only includes tasks and activities that are relevant to the new (!) Job. The result of a compact, keyword-like job description could look like the following example. You can also edit and rewrite the template online in the browser. Simply click on the box.

Job description

My work as an "office assistant" in the media industry.
Duration of employment: MM / YYYY to today (not canceled)

Main activities and tasks

  • Takeover of organizational tasks
  • Handling of all correspondence
  • Processing of complaints
  • Human resource management
  • Contract management
  • Appointment
  • Contact person for employee questions

Outside employment

  • Processing and coordination of vacation requests
  • Travel bookings
  • Create employee surveys and statistics
  • Participation in the annual report
  • Preparing accounting

cooperation with

  • Management
  • HR department
  • Financial accounting
  • Head of department
  • Auditor (external)
  • Agencies (external)
  • Coaches and consultants (external)

Special achievements and successes

  • Cost savings on business trips (minus 18 percent)
  • Simplification of appointment coordination and reporting
  • Increase in employee participation in surveys (plus 46 percent)

Skills and qualifications

  • Completed commercial apprenticeship
  • 8 years of professional experience
  • Excellent knowledge of MS Office and SAP
  • Pronounced willingness to work
  • Independent and careful way of working
  • Reliability and trustworthiness in dealing with sensitive data
  • Always positive feedback in the annual appraisal and annual salary increases

Job description Tips & checklist

Before you include your job description in your application, please check whether you have thought of all of these points:

  • Factual
    Your tasks and responsibilities in the company are presented realistically and comprehensibly. No exaggerations! They make you unbelievable.
  • Professional
    You use important technical terms to make your job description convincing and professional. Please explain technical terms anyway (in brackets). Not every HR manager understands them.
  • Uniformly
    The style of language and the layout of the description match the rest of the application documents. So everything looks like one piece.
  • Neutral
    Your motivation and goals do not belong in the job description, but in the cover letter. Limit yourself to factual, verifiable facts in the document.

Job description in the employment contract

The job description in the application is useful and can add value. But it is almost even more important in the employment contract. As an essential component, it regulates the exact position of the employee in the company, whose tasks, areas of responsibility, authorities and to whom must be reported. It is also the basis for classification in certain tariffs.

But you can also decide about itwhether an operational dismissal will be legally effective at all. Example: If the employment contract states that your activity includes the manufacture of packaging, you can only be terminated “for operational reasons” if the employer no longer produces packaging. As an employee, you should therefore check carefully in advance which formulations are in the job description or in the employment contract.

They are a double-edged sword: the more specifically the job is formulated, the easier it is to cancel this job and make a transfer more difficult. The more general the job description, the higher the potential protection against dismissal. The boss can then assign you tasks that may not correspond to your qualifications at all. You can then no longer refuse.

[Photo credit: Karrierebibel.de]

Further sources and advice
Application tips
➠ Application templates
➠ 11 application forms
➠ ABC of application tips
➠ Application folder
➠ Application photo
➠ cover sheet
➠ Brief profile

Tips on the résumé
➠ CV in tabular form
➠ Resume templates
➠ Internships on the CV
➠ hobbies on the resume
➠ Unemployment on the résumé
➠ gaps in the résumé

Tips for covering letters
➠ Cover letter
➠ Introductory sentence in the cover letter
➠ Final sentence in the cover letter
➠ Interests in the cover letter
➠ Strengths in the cover letter
➠ Attachment directory

Tips on the job reference
➠ Assess job reference
➠ Secret codes in the certificate
➠ Interim report
➠ Job description
➠ References & samples

Special applications
➠ Unsolicited application
➠ Internal application
➠ Discreet application
➠ Email application
➠ Online application
➠ Application as a temporary worker
➠ Application for mini jobs
➠ Application after termination