Writing a Job Description

Some Assembly Required

I found out there was no Santa Claus when I was six years old. It was Christmas Eve and thinking that my older sister and brother and myself had “visions of sugarplums” in our heads, my father proceeded to try to assemble a Lionel train set — my brother’s only Christmas wish! I awoke to sounds of “extreme frustration” shall we say and made my way to the top of the stairs. Although my older sister immediately followed and stuck her fingers in my ears, the jig was up.

Most hiring managers feel the same sense of frustration when it comes to assembling a job description as my father felt that Christmas Eve. Yet, like putting the train set together correctly, a solid job description could be the difference between your hiring staying on the track or not!

Here are a few suggestions to help you write a great job description.

  • Start with the End in Mind

    Question: If you don’t know what success would look like in the position you are hiring for, how will you be able to identify the right person for the job? A good job description goes a long way towards identifying the right candidate and shortening your hire cycle!

    Ask yourself this question, “If everything is going well in one year, what will be happening?” Then, answer it! This should be the basis of your description. Here’s an example:

    • Within 60 days evaluate the product marketing team and make a plan for two product launches;
    • Meet with the top 10 accounts in the first 30 days;
    • Achieve annual quota of $2.5 million while adding two new accounts per quarter;
    • Have a sales pipeline with a minimum of 200 qualified prospects while adding 30 new prospects per quarter.

    You get the point. Your job description should have very specific and measurable objectives on it. List down all the “deliverables” of the job. We’ve seen job descriptions that are a half- page and some that are three pages.

  • Use It to Get Your Team in Sync

    If the job is one that has multiple reporting responsibilities, make sure everyone who the position “touches” is involved in shaping the description-or at least signing off on it. You should all be on the same page as far as what has to be done, when it has to be done and who is responsible for doing it. During the hiring process is not the time to hammer out these issues – do it while you are crafting the job description.

  • Use It When Interviewing

    You can take the guesswork out of your interviewing by using your job description. Compare your candidate’s qualifications against what has to be done — those specific, measurable results that are to be achieved within a certain timeframe. Either they’ve done it or they haven’t — or everything that they have done in their past tells you that they can reach the stated goals of the position. Ask your candidate for specifics on how they reached their goals.

  • Use it as a Performance Review Tool

    Yes, that’s right! A good job description should be so detailed that you can use it to review your new employee after six months, one year, or whenever. If you have stated the goals up front, measuring as to the results is easy. Use your job description as a road map for you new hire to get them where you want them to be!

By the way, my father did get the train together after all: a perfect figure eight in the middle of the living room that never derailed. It was the best Christmas my brother ever had! As for me, I never looked at fat men with white beards the same way again!

This entry was posted in Finding Great Employees/Recruiting, Hiring Process, Additional Topics. Bookmark the permalink.