We all know that deciding which person to hire is vastly different from selecting which hammer to buy, but why don’t our job descriptions reflect that?
This represents a fairly standard job description, which is unfortunate. Oftentimes a combination of time constraints, ignorance, and occasional laziness result in job descriptions (like this one) that contain nothing more than a brief summary of functional responsibilities and a list of desired skills and experiences. While such an approach may work well for describing the tool one wants to purchase, it is far less effective in describing the type of person who will need to not only do her job well, but successfully interact with all her colleagues.
Job descriptions, whether done well or poorly, can impact a wide range of things: the tone of the candidate search, expectations held by recruiters and hiring managers, areas of focus during the search, questions asked during interviews, the quality of active candidates, level of interest from passive candidates, and much more. In many ways a job description serves as a recruiting roadmap, and as such can play a major role in influencing whether or not you hire the right person. Do it well and everyone, from the recruiters, to the hiring managers, to the candidates will have a clear understanding of what is both needed and expected. Do it poorly and the entire recruiting process will run the risk of becoming a confusing, convoluted mess.
Here at Hello Talent we spend a lot of time talking about proactive recruiting, and when it comes to this kind of recruiting one of the first things companies should do is define their vacancies correctly. A good job description does more than just list the key skills that are required (something you can just as easily do for something like a hammer), it serves as a description of the type of person you want on your team and gives them a pitch about the reasons they should join your company. In writing about your job vacancies you should focus on more on the who and the why than you focus on the what.
So how does one go about creating an effective job description? Here are three tips to help you get started:
1. Define the kind of person you want to hire
Skills can be taught and experience can be earned, but personalities and attitudes are incredibly hard to change. It’s better to hire people who naturally fit with the job and the culture than it is to try and force things to work out. For instance, some salespeople are all about relationship building through kindness and working together with other departments to ensure happy clients sign and stay. Other salespeople are self-described sales tigers who idolize the mantra “Always Be Closing” as portrayed by Alec Baldwin in the film Glengarry Glen Ross (a quick YouTube search will provide some clips). Both styles get results, but only when they match the culture and values of the company and team they are placed in. By starting with who you want to hire rather than what skills are required you’ll ensure your company is in a position to bring the right kind of person on board.
2. Accurately describe the team and company culture
This goes hand in hand with defining who you want to hire. When you take the time to explain what it’s like to work in the company and on the team certain expectations are automatically created. Recruiters will know how to sell the job and candidates will know whether or not they want to work within such an environment – something a long list of skill requirements will never do for you.
When describing the company and/or team it’s important to remember that telling people “we’re a great place to work” isn’t enough. Instead, core values and the reality of day to day life should be communicated. For instance, in some of the vacancies we’ve had for Talentsoft’s Hello Talent business unit we’ve included the following: “The Hello Talent business unit has the vibe and attitude of a startup. We’re independent go-getters who think outside the box and speak our minds – this helps us to make sure that everyone is looking for ways to improve Hello Talent and that no one feels afraid to share what they think we need to do to make it happen.” These two sentences didn’t take much effort, but have payed huge dividends in helping us communicate what it is like to be on our team. We’ve made some great hires as a result.
3. Describe WHY you do what you do
When your company shares why it does what it does it can then attract the kind of people who share that belief. Whether the purpose of your company is to earn wealth, revolutionize the way people communicate, fight hunger, etc. it’s important to share that in order to help ensure you hire people who are aligned with that mission.
With these three points in mind here’s what the sales manager job description would look like if done a bit differently:
In this job description the same requirements for skills and experience are listed, but they don’t take center stage. Instead focus is given to the type of person wanted for the job. Ultimately, recruiting is all about people, which is why it’s so important that we treat candidates like actual people throughout the entire recruiting process, including the job descriptions we share with them. When we start thinking about candidates as human beings and not equipment we’ll find that we get better applicants, better hires, and better business results. Its helped us to make some great hires at Hello Talent and we think it will make a big difference for you as well.
To read Part 2 and learn how you can send better, more personalized emails to candidates click here.