Write a Job Description That Attracts “A” Players

Employers often complain that they are unable to fill open jobs. But many are looking for such a narrow set of competencies that no candidate could possibly measure up. Exhaustive job descriptions deter solid prospects who worry they don’t fit the overly specific (or ambitious) criteria. Next time you’re hiring, consider these tips:

  • Focus on success factors, not experience. Don’t itemize every skill the candidate could possibly need. Instead, briefly list the most important abilities required for a person to succeed.  Describe what success looks like (i.e. successful sales candidates will demonstrate the ability to penetrate new geographic markets within 6 months, successful accounting candidates will be able to demonstrate the ability to have closed month end books within 3 business days).
  • Make the title clear. The way you label a job defines who will apply. Use job titles that clearly describe the profession. Don’t use insider jargon.  It’s important to know you might call a position one thing inside the company but advertise for it differently, and perhaps even have a different option on the business card to open the right doors (i.e. you might post an adv. for an Outside Sales Professional, internal call it an Account Executive but have VP Client Relations on their business card).
  • Watch your biases. Be careful not to include requirements that would rule out capable candidates who don’t exactly match the ideal in your head.  Let the success factors weed out the candidates not arbitrary requirements.  You may think a position requires 5-8 years experience and a Bachelor’s degree in a particular field, but if someone with 3 years experience with a different degree can demonstrate previous success, would you really want to exclude them from even sending you a resume or expressing interest?

It’s also helpful to spend some time beating up what experience or education a candidate MUST bring with them, versus what can be acquired on the job in a reasonable amount of time. Remember finding someone who has the right healthy skills and culture fit with the basic hard skills may be a better investment than those who have all the hard skills but are a lousy culture fit.

source: Management Tip of the Day, Harvard Business Review

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Explore posts in the same categories: Leadership, Selection

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