An easy trap to fall into when creating a job description is to attempt to define the individual you want to hire rather than the job duties and functions. It is important not to limit yourself to one specific personality profile or think you have a person in mind when you start interviewing. You may find yourself ruling out more candidates than you rule in. Here are several ways to define the job, not the person, as you write your next job description.
- Focus on the work required. Too many employers focus on the skills needed rather than the work that is required. While it sounds like a logical place to start, the skills someone brings to the table aren’t necessarily the skills it will take to handle the job. Look at the work that is required for this position and really determine what needs to be done on a daily basis.
- Performance based decisions. When people are promoted internally, they are given these opportunities based on their performance. Experts suggest giving external candidates the same opportunity. Look at individuals’ accomplishments rather than their laundry list of skills and experience. Even if the experience is a perfect fit, that doesn’t mean they will be able to perform the job well. Look at how they have succeeded in any past position while making a decision.
- Identify the things that need to be fixed or improved. When you are looking to fill an opportunity in your company you are likely seeking a candidate who can solve a problem for you. Every opportunity is an avenue for improvement. Identify the things that are not working for you in the role or the department and define those as part of the job description. That will attract a candidate who feels they have your solution.
- Avoid person descriptions. Many job descriptions include empty phrases such as “muti-tasker,” or “a people person.” When job descriptions become specific about the type of individual they feel would function best in the position, the opportunity to hire a real superstar may be lost in the shuffle. Don’t describe personality traits, habits, or behaviors that you think will work in the position. You run the risk of missing out on talent.
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