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Dear Workforce What Role Do Job Descriptions Play When Recruiting Top-notch Employees

Dear Connecting the Dots:

If a company is a really sought-after employer, candidates want to work there so much that the description of a specific job becomes less important.

If a company isn’t as hot a commodity, the actual job is the No. 1 reason a strong person would even consider, let alone accept, an offer. Based on this, a compelling job description describing the challenges and opportunities is very important.

Most job descriptions are boring and actually preclude good people from even considering jobs. Here are some points you should consider as you prepare this more relevant version of the job description. My term for this is a performance profile.

  1. Ask the hiring manager to describe the top four or five things a person taking the job must do to be considered successful. For an engineer, it might first be to figure out the design problem and then quickly evaluate a few alternatives. For a sales rep, it might be to make quota within three months after successfully completing the three-week training class. For a product manager, it might be to take over a new product line and launch it within 12 months and complete a detailed project plan within 45 days. A manager might need to develop a team. The first step in finding and hiring top people is knowing what the future employee needs to do to be successful.
  2. Convert the key skills and requirements in the job description into an action item. For example, rather than saying, “Must have a CPA and international experience,” the performance objective might be “Lead the implementation of a multi-unit international reporting system.”
  3. Get everyone on the hiring team to agree to the list of performance objectives. This way, everyone is on the same page when assessing candidates.
  4. Convert these performance objectives into a compelling employee value proposition. Ask yourself: Why would a good person want this job? Tie some of the projects to a major company initiative. Called job branding, this is a great way to attract top people.
  5. Emphasize opportunities over requirements in your job descriptions. Minimize the “must haves” and describe why a top person would want this job. Put the requirements at the bottom. “Use your CPA and see the world” is much more enticing than “Must have a CPA and five years of international accounting experience.”

If you want to hire better people, you need to offer better jobs. Unfortunately, too many companies are doing just that–simply offering another job, not an opportunity. This approach simply attracts candidates who are content to have any job. If you’re not attracting enough top people, start by rewriting your job descriptions and make them interesting and worthy of consideration.

SOURCE: Lou Adler, the Adler Group, Irvine, California, July 30, 2005.

LEARN MORE: Generating interest in low-wage positions.. The need fora creative, edgy ad campaign.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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