Looking Beyond the Job Description

Looking Beyond the Job DescriptionPosted by Aoife Gorey on Thu, Jan 31, 2013

Unfortunately, many job descriptions are simply dysfunctional. Too often, what they describe has little to no bearing on an individual’s actual abilities, knowledge, skills, or the fit needed for successful performance of the job. Why is this? Two reasons come immediately to mind. First, the organization is using the same description for the role which was developed many years ago and has never been updated. This is a problem, since everything has changed in the work environment except what we think we need.

The second reason is the description is based upon what the hiring manager thinks is important for doing the job. This is wrought with flaws, as the manager may never have been in this role. Further, they are filtering it through their own level of experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities. What if the hiring manager providing the information for the description doesn’t really know what is needed, or how the role will impact the overall business strategy of the organization? You are relying on the manager’s judgment, which may or may not be very good.

In my days as a recruiter, I was always curious as to how the manager chose how many years of experience are needed for a role. Some were adamant that “they must have a minimum of five years!” My response typically was, “why five years? Are you looking for tenure or performance? Just because someone found a way to hide in a role for five years doesn’t mean that they were good at it.”

The questions that hiring managers and recruiters should ask before advertising a new position are:

1. What impact do we expect this role will have on the team, the department and the organization? 2. What constitutes success for this role? 3. Do we currently have anyone who demonstrates this level of success in this role now? 4. If we do, did they always have this level of success or did it take them years to develop? 5. If we do not have anyone in the role, are our expectations realistic?6. 6. What support will someone in this role need to accelerate their performance? 7. Are we willing and able to provide that level of support? 8. What will this role evolve into? How will we ensure it matches the needs of our market? 9. What is the cost of not having this role? Can we do without it? 10. What should a person in this role expect from their team, manager, and organization?

The key to recruiting is not just sourcing and hiring a person for a role, it is in hiring a person who views the new role as their new career, and they will return sustainable value and growth to the organization. Recruiting viewed any other way results in a revolving door of people who drain the organization’s time and resources