Why Even Freelance Graphic Designers Need a Job Description


If you wanted to hire yourself, what would you write in the job description to make you want the job? I got to thinking about this because occasionally, I get requests from clients who ask me to do tasks that make me think “Hey, I didn’t sign up for this” and I’m thinking you get those requests too.

But I did not write a job description for clients to see. I did it for myself and here’s why I think it’s important and why you should make one for yourself too.


It puts your goals and priorities into focus.

I’m assuming you have concrete, achievable goals for your design business. When you get to summarizing your key areas of responsibilities and detailing the tasks in your job description, you are bound to write down only those that will help you achieve your goals. If you usually can’t help yourself from taking on projects that do little to bring you closer to a successful design business, hopefully the next time you are faced with a similar situation, you are more inclined to think “it’s not in my job description,” and turn the project down.

Writing down your job responsibilities will also clarify your priorities. It may be scary to see on paper (or screen) that your job description apparently includes marketing and accounting, but this sets you up to take your business a bit more seriously.


It adds to your professionalism.

With no one looking over our shoulders, those of us who work for ourselves can sometimes fall into unprofessional behavior. Having a job description makes you accountable even if it’s (only) to yourself. It’s the closest you can get to working in a corporate environment where you are more likely to “mind your manners.”

I don’t know who wrote this but I’d like to share this interesting comparison between professionals and amateurs:

A professional learns every aspect of the job. An amateur skips the learning process whenever possible.

A professional carefully discovers what is needed and wanted. An amateur assumes what others need and want.

A professional looks, speaks and dresses like a professional. An amateur is sloppy in appearance and speech.

A professional keeps his or her work area clean and orderly. An amateur has a messy, confused or dirty work area.

A professional is focused and clear-headed. An amateur is confused and distracted.

A professional does not let mistakes slide by. An amateur ignores or hides mistakes.

A professional jumps into difficult assignments. An amateur tries to get out of difficult work.

A professional completes projects as soon as possible. An amateur is surrounded by unfinished work piled on top of unfinished work.

A professional remains level-headed and optimistic. An amateur gets upset and assumes the worst.

A professional handles money and accounts very carefully. An amateur is sloppy with money or accounts.

A professional faces up to other people’s upsets and problems. An amateur avoids others’ problems.

A professional uses higher emotional tones: Enthusiasm, cheerfulness, interest, contentment. An amateur uses lower emotional tones: anger, hostility, resentment, fear, victim.

A professional persists until the objective is achieved. An amateur gives up at the first opportunity.

A professional produces more than expected. An amateur produces just enough to get by.

A professional produces a high-quality product or service. An amateur produces a medium-to-low quality product or service.

A professional earns high pay. An amateur earns low pay and feels it’s unfair.

A professional has a promising future. An amateur has an uncertain future.


So even if you hired yourself, the job description sets the tone for how you work, pretty much like how it is used by companies and design agencies to look for deserving talent.


It tells you how much you are worth.

Listing your skills and experience helps to give you an idea of how much you ought to be charging and most likely, you are charging lower than you should.

Be sure to write down responsibilities and tasks for which you have the skills to perform successfully. If you accept projects that require skills you actually don’t have, it will show in your work and you won’t hear from the client again.

Knowing what you know will guide you as to which projects to accept and which to turn down. It will also remind you of the skills you wish you had and will encourage you to continue studying.



Job descriptions are no longer just hiring tools. They have evolved into aids for performance evaluations, training and development and even compensation programs. Even we solo designers can benefit from one.

What do you think?


  • August 4th, 2011 /

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