What is a job function? Sounds obvious…or is it? How is job function different than job family, job title, or job role. Let’s dig in.

Job function meaning

What is job function? The purpose of a job function in a job posting is to give a complete description of the primary responsibilities the employee will perform. We define “job function” as a detailed list of an employee’s actions and duties as part of their role. Job functions create clarity and understanding of a position. 

A well-written job function will help the best candidates for a job to apply. This helps candidates know if the job function fits their skill set and preferences.

So what are job functions? Job functions might vary from position to position, but a list of job function examples might read:

  • Supervise and manage department team
  • Provide support and training to team members
  • Develop and implement protocols for increased team efficiency 
  • Maintain a working document of best practices
  • Report to directors and executive staff

A job function list should be clear and concise. Lists might also be organized into job function categories for better readability if the position has multiple work functions.

Here’s an example from a Social and Digital Content Design Lead for the NBA:

candidates job function

Grouping is a great way to ensure your job function list is as clear as possible, especially if the position has several complex functions.


Synonyms for job functions

Some industries use different terms for a “job function,” but they still mean the same thing. Here are 3 examples:

  • Work functions
  • Essential functions of a job
  • Employment functions

Good to know — a “work functions” definition, “employment function,” and “essential job functions” examples are all the same as “job functions.” 

Below are some essential function examples that might also help to define “work function.”

This job posting from the University of Maryland uses “Essential Functions” as a heading for the list of job functions for their Laboratory Helper position:

work function meaning example

This job posting for a role in healthcare uses “Essential Job Functions” as their header to list job functions:

work function meaning


Job function vs job title

A job function is usually a list of responsibilities and tasks undertaken by an employee in a role. But a job title is usually just a few words that concisely label a position. Job titles are used externally to help people outside of the company understand what your job is. Job titles are what candidates search for when they are looking for a new role.

Fun Fact: Ongig has a Job Titles Guide that lists the most-searched titles in various industries. Check it out if you need some job title inspiration!

In contrast to a job title, a job function is more important internally. Job functions help employees to know what each position entails and is responsible for. 

Below you can see the job title is “Remote Full Time Data Entry Representative” or “Data Entry Representative,” and the essential functions or job functions are in a bulleted list that follows:

candidates job function


Job function vs role

What’s the difference between job role vs function?

The easiest way to separate them is that the job role refers to what the employee will do in a company and their relationships with other employees.

The job function is a larger list of responsibilities and tasks that are routinely completed to meet the requirements of that role.


What is the difference between job junction and job family?

Here are 2 definitions that help explain the difference between job function and job family:

Job Function:

“A broad category of jobs (e.g. Finance or General Administration or Faculty & Student Services) which includes multiple job families. The job function may also be referred to as a profession.”

Job Family:

“A group of jobs having the same nature of work (e.g. Accountant or HR Generalist) but requiring different levels of skill, responsibility, or working conditions (e.g. entry-level versus senior level). The job family may also be referred to as a specialty area.”

source: Harvard University


Why I Wrote This? 

Ongig loves anything related to job descriptions, including the all-important “job function.” Check out our Text Analyzer software if you need help creating clear, consistent JDs (that are bias-free).



  1. What Does Job Function Mean? (by Indeed Editorial Team)
  2. Differences Between Job Function & Job Title (by Neil Kokemuller)
  3. What Does Job Function Mean? (by Devra Gartenstein)
  4. Harvard University Job Functions and Families

by in Job Description Management