People Solutions for the Decorative Building Products Industry

Think Before You Ink


Think Before You Ink
Analyze Your Needs to Develop an In-depth Designer Job Description

Ever notice that after you’ve read a variety of job descriptions for a specific role, you feel like the same three people are writing those descriptions for everyone? It’s a shame that more time doesn’t go into analyzing a business’s needs and developing a specific job description before posting a job, interviewing candidates and perhaps making a questionable hire.

Below are some of our probative and thought-provoking questions for analyzing the position and your business before posting a less than compelling designer job description. These questions really make you dig deep to understand exactly what is required for your new hire, so you don’t over- or under-hire the position, and, provide copy to describe the level of skill you require. There are several areas to examine, including language, math and reasoning abilities, as well as defining the physical demands and your work environment — all which affect the final job description. Hang in there with us, it will be worth the time.

Essential duties – list the position’s most important functions and responsibilities, including all aspects of the job, whether performed daily, weekly, monthly or annually. Be sure to include duties that occur at irregular intervals too. Here are a few examples:

• Open the showroom on-time each day of business you are scheduled.
• Check all incoming emails and voice mails to the business daily, and either handle or reassign to other staff before 10 a.m. for follow-up.
• Prepare a weekly activity report for your manager, documenting all new prospects, client quotes, deposits taken, orders submitted, orders installing, and orders completed. Submit before 6 p.m. each Friday.

Supervisory Duties – the results of this area will directly impact the “grade” or pay scale of the position. Answer all questions.

• Does this position require the candidate supervise others?
o Are there subordinate supervisors reporting to this position? [E.g. is this a manager role, in which there are shift or team supervisors reporting to him/her?]
o If answer is yes to previous question, how many subordinate supervisors report to this position?
o What are the names of the other areas supervised by this job? [E.g. Builder sales staff, custodial staff, etc.]
o How many employees total report to the subordinate supervisors?
• Are there non-supervisory employees who report directly to this position?
o If answer is yes to previous question, how many employees are directly supervised by this role?

Education & experience – select the level that you believe is needed to successfully accomplish this job. Try not to over- or under-estimate; this data will also directly impact the pay scale of the position.

• Level 1 – no prior experience or training.
• Level 2 – less than HS education or up to one month of related experience or training or an equivalent combo of education and experience.
• Level 3 – HS diploma or GED, or one to three months of related experience or training, or again, and equivalent combo of education and experience.
• Level 4 – a one-year certificate from a college or technical school, or three to six months of related experience or training, or again an equivalent combo.
• Level 5 – an AA [Associate of Arts degree] or equivalent from a two-year school, or six months to one year of experience or training, or again an equivalent combo.
• Level 6 – a BA or BS [Bachelor of Arts or Science degree] or equivalent from a four-year school, or one to two years experience or training, or again an equivalent combo.
• Level 7 – a fifth year college or university program certificate, or two to four years of related experience or training, or a combo.
• Level 8 – an MA or MS [Masters of Arts or Science degree] or equivalent, or four to 10 years of related experience or training, or a combo.

Language skills – select the language level to successfully accomplish the essential duties of this position. If you’re so inclined, there are free, online language skills tests you can use to more finitely gauge the candidates’ command of the English language. Here’s a link to a free, online test.

• Level 1 – Minimum — read one- and two-syllable words, and able to print/speak simple sentences.
• Level 2 – Basic — read and comprehend simple instructions, short correspondence, and present information in one-on-one and small group situations.
• Level 3 – Intermediate — read and interpret documents and write routine reports and correspondence; able to speak effectively before groups.
• Level 4 – High — read, analyze and interpret journals, procedures and regulations; able to write reports, correspondence and manuals; can effectively present information and respond to questions from groups of managers and clients alike.
• Level 5 – Very High — read, analyze and interpret common technical vernacular to the industry and legal documents; able to respond to common inquires or complaints; able to write speeches and present information to top management as well as managers and clients.
• Level 6 – Highest — read, analyze and interpret complex documents; able to respond effective to most sensitive inquiries or complaints; able to write speeches and articles using original or innovative techniques; able to make effective and persuasive speeches and presentations on complex topics to groups and individuals alike.

Math skills – select the level needed to successfully accomplish the essential quoting, billing and reporting aspects of the position. We recommend developing your own, tailored 10-question math screening test to help determine skills in this area.

• Level 1 – Minimum – add and subtract two-digit figures and multiply and divide with 10s and 100s; can perform these operations using American currency, and weight and distance variables.
• Level 2 – Basic – add, subtract, multiply and divide all units of measure using whole numbers, common fractions and decimals; can compute rate and percent.
• Level 3 – Intermediate – can calculate figures and amounts such as discounts, commissions and percentages; can apply concepts of basic algebra and geometry.
• Level 4 – High – can work with math concepts such as probability and statistical inference and fundamentals of plane and solid geometry; can apply concepts such as fractions, percents, and proportions to practical situations.

Reasoning ability – this is probably one of the most important and least defined areas for the designer job description. Below are some general categories to define the level of logical reasoning required for this position; however, there are free online exams. Select the level necessary to be successful in this position.

• Level 1 – Basic – can apply common sense to carry out detailed written and oral instructions; can deal with problems involving a few concrete variables.
• Level 2 – Intermediate – can apply common sense to carry out instructions furnished in written, or diagram form; can deal with problems involving several concrete variables.
• Level 3 – High – can solve practical problems and deal with a variety of concrete variables in situations where only limited process exists; can interpret a variety of instructions furnished in written, oral, diagram and process form.
• Level 4 – Very High – can define problems, collect data, establish facts and draw valid conclusions; can interpret an extensive variety of technical instructions in mathematical or diagram form; can deal with several abstract and concrete variables.

Design capabilities – critical for a successful kitchen & bath designer is the candidate’s ability to create and communicate suitable client designs. Select the appropriate level required to design for each room of the home, such as kitchen, bath, library, laundry/utility, family room and home office, to name the most common.

• Level 1 – Basic – can use 2020 or another design software tool to load others’ NKBA- compliant designs and quotes; can use a calculator.
• Level 2 – Intermediate – can create original designs using 2020 or another design software tool as well as hand-draw NKBA-compliant designs; can build a quote manually, using the manufacturers’ catalogs.
• Level 3 – High – can create original designs using 2020 or another design software tool as well as hand-draw NKBA-compliant designs; can not only build a complex quote of mixed products electronically but manually as well, using the manufacturers’ catalogs; can build inspiration boards/storyboards to communicate the overall theme, color, texture and scale of the various designs.

At Keercutter, we have a custom kitchen cabinet design test developed for entry level designers; if you’d like to learn more about it, please contact

Take time to lay out the physical demands of the job. The “on-the-job” activities should be documented in your job description such as amount of time standing, walking, sitting, use hand to finger, handle or feel, reach with hands and arms, climb or balance, stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl, talk or hear, taste or smell.

Does the position require that weight be lifted or force be exerted? If so, how much and how often?

Think about any special vision requirements for the position like close or distance vision;  ability to identify and distinguish colors etc.

Think about the work environment – how much exposure to certain conditions does the position require like wet or humid conditions [non-weather]; working near moving mechanical parts; working in high, precarious places; working with the presence of fumes or airborne particles; working near toxic or caustic chemicals; outdoor extreme weather conditions; working with the presence of vibration.

How about noise in the workspace?

• Quiet [e.g. library, private office with door]
• Moderate noise [e.g. computers/printers, music, light traffic sounds]
• Loud noise [e.g. construction going on, call center-like background noise]

An appropriate set of statements summarizing all of the working conditions and special requirements might read something like this:

• Our showroom is a moderately quiet environment located in a business park where there is occasional vibration and noise from neighboring shops,
• This position requires the ability to sit, walk and stand most of the time, and occasional climbing and reaching,
• This position requires extensive use of the hands for computer work 1/3-2/3 of the time, and vision up close, in the distance and depth perception, as well as the ability to see and distinguish color, and
• Although designers are not required to assist with product deliveries, occasionally s/he will be asked to lift no more than 25 pounds to receive orders.

You should also capture/disclose any required or preferred special qualifications [e.g. bi-lingual, certifications such as CKD, a valid driver’s license and personal car to drive, etc.] in your job description. And don’t forget to describe the ongoing training/education opportunities for development, such as attending local NKBA or ASID events, attending national trade shows such as IBS and KBIS, earning CEUs for certification upkeep, and tuition reimbursement for related college coursework.

Many employers today also find the identification of unique qualities about the business to be quite helpful in qualifying candidates. Examples:

• Located two blocks from Amtrak station for convenient commuting,
• Flexible scheduling,
• Paid volunteer time-off, or
• Located in LEED Silver building.

We also recommend creating a short list of “attributes” or behaviors you feel help identify the best design candidates. For example, terms or phrases like the following.

• Go-getter, dynamo
• Detail-oriented
• People person
• Energetic, engaging
• Problem solver
• Good listener
• Creative designer

And lastly, after you’ve analyzed your responses to these probative areas for your designer position, consolidate the various duties and skills to create a general purpose statement for the job; place it at top of job description – think of it as the 60-second elevator pitch for the position. Below is an example of how this paragraph could be constructed:

MN-based, multi-site kitchen/bath dealer seeks CKD to create unique showroom experiences for potential customers from greeting/building rapport, to product education and design choices, to order writing and job site oversight for residential kitchens, baths, laundry/utility rooms and home office spaces. This sales and design dynamo will transform rooms in accordance with the clients’ requirements, using creative spacial planning and understanding of color, texture and scale to design interior spaces that have aesthetic appeal and make the most of the available space.

If you’d like assistance analyzing your unique designer and business needs, or would like a PDF with forms for the physical demands portion of this article, give us a jingle. We’ll be glad to help. 866.835.4914 or email Lynn @

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