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, and 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 four 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. Lastly, 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: 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 overall framework for what you are looking for in a candidate.
Day-to-day work: Notes what gets done daily and how the day should be structured for someone new to the group.
Reporting and supervisory responsibilities: Lists who they are reporting to, what the lines of communication are, and what the training structure looks like
Expectations for the role: Clarifies what you need from this person and how you expect them to fit into the group.
Goals for the first year: Helps a person know what he/she is working toward and what resources will be needed to create success for you, your team, and the new hire.
What you have to offer the new hire: Explains your contribution to the new hire as a manager or supervisor.
An example of the easiest and the most complicated project in a given time period: Helps further breakdown responsibilities, skills, and what you are going to need from the new hire.
Purpose of the role and possibility for growth: Explains where the new person fits into the company and why they are important.
Level/years of experience needed for this role: Designates if the role is junior, mid-level, or senior.
Degree: If it matters, lists what level of study and areas of concentration apply.
Software knowledge: Notes which software is essential and which is a plus.
Background that has been most successful for this position: Notes examples like, must have a background in studio production, advertising, or creative services for consumer goods.
Prior industry knowledge needed to perform the job: Notes examples like, must work well with technology, understand medical terms, or be comfortable reviewing analytics, etc.
Skills the incoming candidate can learn through internal training: Notes examples like, Lotus Notes, project management, or a billing system or in-house tracking system.
Personalities that work best: Lists traits that make for a good team player. 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 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.