Differences between a Job Profile vs. Job Description

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 3, 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.

Job profiles and job descriptions are common terminologies, often used interchangeably because they share many similarities. A job profile specifies what an individual may require for the job, whereas a job description outlines the responsibilities and obligations of a particular position. Learning the differences between job descriptions and job profiles, regardless of your credentials, can help you understand company preferences during the hiring process. In this article, we discuss the meaning of job profiles and job descriptions, compare the two terms, explore the benefits and elements of each, and review essential job description questions you can ask.

Meanings of job profile vs. job description

Here's an explanation of the terms job profile vs. job description to help you learn more about each:

What is a job profile?

A job profile is any document made by an employer that outlines the specific requirements necessary for a job position. Employers and recruiters typically use a profile to streamline job seekers' applications to determine the most suitable individuals for a particular role. This process can help increase the likelihood of attracting qualified candidates for the position. For job seekers, a job profile can be a good way to evaluate their chances of getting hired and can be used to tailor application documents to the role.

Read more: How to Apply to Jobs Online in 16 Actionable Steps

What is a job description?

A job description is a detailed document containing sufficient information regarding an open position's essential duties, tasks, functions, and responsibilities. It may also outline a list of physical demands, working conditions, skills, certification, and abilities required to perform effectively in that role. The recruitment team or HR department is usually responsible for creating a job description after careful analysis of the tasks involved in the role or position. A job description allows recruiters to set employment expectations, which can be useful for evaluating an employee's performance once hired.

Read more: How to Write a Job Description (With Template and Example)

Differences between job profile vs. job description

Here are the major differences between a job profile and a job description:

  • Definition and purpose: A job profile outlines the necessary traits, skills, and other important qualities, including certification and experience, required to perform effectively in a role. In contrast, a job description describes the responsibilities and tasks of a specific position.

  • Benefit to the company: A job profile helps the hiring company evaluate the performance of their employees according to the set standards and determine who's deserving of rewards, such as promotions, wage increases, and bonuses. A job description creates a clear structure of the tasks and responsibilities of each employee within the company, which helps to prevent confusion in the future.

  • Utility: A job profile may be more useful to interested candidates to help them determine if their skills and abilities align with the requirements for an open position. In comparison, a job description may be more useful to the hiring company as it can provide a guideline for assessing the training needs of new employees.

Read more: What Are Job Boards? (With Tips on How to Use One)

What are the benefits of a job profile?

Although a job profile is a useful tool for recruiting potential candidates for a role, it also offers other benefits, including:

  • Provides a concise overview of a job. This overview can explain the significant components of a role and what an employer requires from potential candidates. This information can help candidates determine if they're qualified for the position.

  • Provides a clear reference point for assessing employees. The recruitment team can use the profile to create guidelines for evaluating and selecting candidates based on their functionality and performance in their respective roles.

  • Offers insight. It can help guide the HR department on whether it may be necessary to update job requirements or demand additional certifications.

Read more: What Is a Company Profile? (With Tips to Write One)

What are the elements of a job profile?

The most common features in a job profile are:

  • Job title: This refers to the exact name of the available role or a post within a company.

  • Job summary: This brief statement describes a role or position's important functions and responsibilities.

  • Job requirements: This shows the skills, qualities, experience, and necessary certification an employer expects an ideal candidate to have before they qualify for a role.

  • Company information: This gives an account of the hiring company's history, goals, aims, and partnership with some of its most important clients.

  • Job benefits: This part shows some of the added advantages aside from the fixed salary that candidates may obtain once employed, such as dental or health benefits and vacations time.

  • Call to action: This section informs interested candidates on how they can apply for the open position, including a request for all necessary documents for the application.

  • Pay range information: This part of the job profile shows a range of the lowest to the highest possible wages associated with a job or position.

Read more: What Is a Secretary Job Description? (With Resume Example)

What are the benefits of a job description?

Some benefits associated with using a job description include:

  • Assists recruiters and employers in the hiring process. A job description forms the foundation that helps the company communicate the specifications of a job to interested candidates. This description can also serve as a guide for recruiters to work with when assessing individuals that are most qualified for the job.

  • Helps with performance evaluation. A job description gives a clear and well-detailed overview of the responsibilities for a role. It can form the basis for evaluating and managing employee performance.

  • Helps the hiring manager formulate relevant interview questions. The interviewer can base their interview questions on the details in the description.

  • Gives insight into development needs. After updating a job description, the HR manager can use it as a guideline to recommend training programs to ensure current employees also meet the described requirements.

  • Creates a clear and organized structure. By listing the duties, roles, and responsibilities assigned to each employee, an employer can use it as a concrete metric to track if everyone meets company requirements effectively.

  • Assists the legal department. It can help the legal department develop a legally binding contract for the prospective employee. An effective job description document can reduce the risk of a misunderstanding between the employer and employee over the nature of the job.

Read more: Reputation Manager Job Description (Including Salary)

What are the elements of a job description?

Some of the common elements of a job description are:

  • Job title: This concise description, usually restricted from one to three words, reflects the scope of the available role.

  • Job purpose: This summary explains the functionality of the open position in the company and the reason for the job.

  • Description of tasks and responsibilities: This part of a job description explains the tasks, duties, functions, and responsibilities associated with a position. It may also include an outline of the specific nature of the work, along with the company's values and standards.

  • Required qualifications: A job description identifies the necessary educational certifications, specific degree types, skills, abilities, and experience requirements needed to function effectively in a particular role.

  • Performance standard: This shows the management-approved guidelines and expectations that prospective employees can follow to ensure general work efficiency.

  • Job authority and responsibility: This part describes the institutional power that accompanies securing a position within a company. It outlines an employee's place in a company's hierarchical structure and represents the limits of influence and responsibility they have in relation to other employees.

  • Schedule and behavioural expectations: This section explains the daily routine and generally acceptable way to act across all work settings, especially when relating to coworkers and clients.

  • Salary range: Providing the salary range of a particular role can increase the chances of attracting more candidates.

Essential job description questions you can ask

When speaking with a recruiter, you can ask them questions regarding the job description to obtain a better understanding of its details. Carefully consider what you want to ask to help guarantee you receive the most useful response. These are some key questions you can ask while reviewing a job description:

  • Can you give me more information on the day-to-day duties of the position?

  • What can I expect during my first week of work?

  • Are there impending tasks not noted in the description?

  • How do the responsibilities and objectives of the role evolve throughout the course of the year?

  • What are the most important organizational goals?

  • Has there been any shift in strategy or direction?

  • What role does this position play in the company's progress?

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