By Greg Barnett, PhD
A quick Google search on how to create effective job descriptions returns a multitude of resources ranging from best practices and lessons learned to downloadable templates. And while it may be tempting to just copy, paste and post from an existing job description, if you want to save yourself a boatload of time and hassle on the backend of a potential bad hire, it’s worth spending a little extra time up front to not only think about what the job requirements are in terms of tasks and skills, but also the type of person that would likely succeed in that role. For example, you may be looking for an IT professional that can look after the critical systems and databases that keep your company running while troubleshooting user issues as they arise. This person would obviously need to have some proven technical background that illustrates an understanding and skill level commensurate with the job requirements. But don’t they also need to exhibit some level of poise under pressure in order to respond to and resolve unforeseen user issues without becoming the next YouTube sensation?
Taking time to identify the behavior and cognitive requirements for any position will only increase your chances for hiring success since, having thought it through, you’ll have a guideline from which to measure future performance. Ensuring the attraction of the right type of candidates from the start will also help in screening out those who might be a great skill fit but lack the personality or cognitive traits required for the position, or vice versa. (Although, a candidate with the right personality and cognitive traits might be worth considering if the required skills can be gathered with on-the-job training and mentoring.)
Doing a job analysis can help in building a full understanding of any position including the tasks performed and the competencies required. The information captured can then be used to document the knowledge, skills, abilities and other factors required for a job and provide a benchmark for assessment and selection procedures. They can be especially beneficial in situations where you have a completely new or unique role you’re looking to fill, since it will help you to write a good job description, figure out what to look for on the resume and during the interview.
Once you’ve nailed the skill, personality and cognitive requirements of the position, it’s time to create a job post that captures the attention of your ideal candidate. While job descriptions and job posts are similar, they are not the same. Think of a job description like a technical manual for a position, and a job post like an advertisement targeting your ideal applicant. Make it short, sweet and to the point so it catches and keeps a job seeker’s attention. A great job post should make both the job and your organization sound appealing, exciting and attractive to the values and interests of the kinds of people you want to attract…because you don’t want everyone, you just want the right one.
For more insights and tips on creating a great job posting, check out our other recent blog post The candidate whisperer: The power of the job post.