General Business

Ask the Experts: Job Postings and Harassment Claims

What is the difference between a job description and a job posting? Can I just share the job description when advertising for a role?

While the job description and the job posting are similar, in that they both outline the duties of the role and the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) needed to perform those duties, each has a different purpose.

The job description is an internal document outlining the purpose of the role within the organization, the essential functions, and the necessary KSAs. It is often used to set the salary range, complete performance reviews, and if needed, create a performance improvement plan or consider accommodations. A job description will usually have more details about the day-to-day requirements of the position than a job posting, and it doesn’t need to include enticing language about the benefits the company offers or the company’s culture.

The job posting is what you use to attract candidates to the job and your organization. It’s, at least in part, a marketing tool designed to attract talent by not only discussing the duties of the job, but also the benefits you offer (both big and small) and the culture of your organization. While a job posting will usually include a fair bit of information about the job itself – so candidates have a clear picture of what they’re applying for – it probably won’t be as extensive as in the job description. The job posting will also have information on how to apply for the position and perhaps information about your screening and selection process.

While these two types of documents convey much of the same information, they’ll be more effective if you write each of them to achieve their respective purpose.

An employee came to us with a harassment complaint, but said they didn’t want us to do anything about it. Do we have to do an investigation?

Yes, you should still investigate the complaint. Not investigating could expose you to legal risk if more employees come forward with complaints, if the employee later decides to take their complaint to a state or federal agency, or if the harasser continues to harass. Aside from liability, creating a culture that feels safe and inclusive and discourages harassment requires acting when these issues arise.

Let the employee who made the complaint know that you, as the employer, need to ensure a safe work environment for all employees that is free from harassment and that you must investigate situations that are brought to your attention. You can assure the employee that you will keep their name out of the investigation as much as possible and that any retaliation for bringing the situation to light won’t be tolerated. If you think your employees will be deterred from submitting valid complaints due to potential repercussions, you might want to consider providing a way for them to report issues anonymously.

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