By Nathalie Heywood.

An oft repeated question, “do you have a job description?” made me realize that people have a hard time verbalizing what they do and what they want when hiring a new employee. After all, everyone wants the “driven, go-getter, multi-tasker, dynamic, amazing, creative, out-of-the-box thinker,” but what is the job!?!? The truth is adjectives and adverbs are not what gets the job done — it’s all nouns and verbs.

I began to research. I “Binged,” and I “Googled”; I read articles in Crains, Business Insider, Harvard Review; and I found “lists” of all types: 5 Quick Tips, 10 Quick Tips, 3 Quick Lessons, 8 Surprising Effective Things, Things You Should Do, Things You Shouldn’t Do as well as Principles, Rules, Absolutes, and Must-Haves to writing a job description.

So, after several hours of reading, I have this to contribute:

A job description is a framework to find the right candidate.  First, it’s best to write one for yourself. It should cover 4 key areas:

1) A list of the specifics
2) A must list
3) A wish list
4) A personality profile

Next, edit it for general consumption by the public and posting online.

Last, remember to update it as your team develops and requirements change.

Below, I’ve created a basic outline to work from. By filling in the blanks, you can create your personal guide for new hires. It will help you give direction to your recruiters, create a job posting, and pinpoint your need. Once you bring in the new hire, it will also provide a three-month framework for setting milestones, training and guiding your new team member.


Title: Naming the position – gives purpose, direction and definition to the position and communicates professional responsibility.

Salary: Helps identify if candidate is right for the role, is over or under qualified, and has the right level of experience.

Major responsibilities:
Sets the framework for what you are looking for in a candidate overall.

Day-to-day work:
What gets done daily and how the day should be structured for someone new to the group.

Reporting and supervisory responsibilities:
Who they are reporting to; what are the lines of communications; what is the training structure for incoming person

Expectations for the role:
What do you need from this person and how do you expect them to fit into the group.

Goals for the first year of this hire:
What is the person working toward. What resources will you need to put into play to create success for you, your team, and the new hire.

What do you have to offer the person coming into this role:
What is your contribution to the new hire as their manager or supervisor.

An example of the easiest and the most complicated project in a given time period:
This helps further breakdown responsibilities, skills, and what you are going to need from the new hire.

Purpose of the role and possibility for growth:
What you have to offer the candidate for them to make a commitment to you. Where this new person fits into the company and why they are important to the company.

Level/years of experience needed for this role:
Is this a junior, mid-level, or senior role.

If it matters – what level of study, what areas of concentration.

Software knowledge:
List all the ones you must have, then the ones that are a plus, then what you have interest in exploring.

Background which has been most successful for this position:
For example, must have studio production, advertising, creative services for consumer goods.

Prior industry knowledge needed to perform the job:
For example, must work well with technology – understand medical terms – comfortable with reviewing analytics, etc.

Skills the incoming candidate can learn through internal training:
For example, Lotus Notes, project management, or a billing system or in-house tracking system, Excel

Personalities that work best with my style:
Note a word of caution – a personality you work well with isn’t supposed to be someone with whom you can be “friends” even though that is often the benefit.  The personality traits you work well with should be based on how well and efficiently the person works and how they strengthen the overall team. Think of it this way – is it better to deliver on time or have a great sense of humor. I know, ideally both but in truth “on time” wins.

Last note, I didn’t mention culture or brand in the above outline on purpose. Comprehensive outlines like the framework above help you find people that fit the culture. They fit the culture because they have the same values and principles. They will be a brand ambassador for the company because their belief system and work ethic is the same. Remember, using a framework helps you identify the true needs of your department. It helps streamline communications between you, and your team, as well as guide the HR group, outside recruiters and senior management.

Nathalie Heywood, Update Graphics an Update Inc Company

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