How much detail should an employer include in describing essential job functions?

Author: Linda Segall, Segall Enterprises

The job description should have sufficient detail to focus on essential functions in terms of what they actually require, not just how these functions customarily have been performed. This can be done by indicating some notion of frequency, intensity and/or duration; describing the current or customary way the function is performed and qualifying the method as "typical." Employers also should state the purpose of the function to establish its importance to the job.

One key reason to include essential job tasks is so that individuals with disabilities who are capable of performing these tasks are encouraged to apply. The ADA prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. Specific information is more likely to attract applicants, including those with disabilities, who have the appropriate qualifications.