I have a confession to make. I hate job descriptions. I find the vast majority of them are useless. Not as useless as performance reviews, but close.
I’ve found that over the years we don’t focus on the right things when we’re hiring someone for our company. Instead, we focus on the easy stuff and it’s never the easy stuff that gets you the right person for your company.
Today’s video is about how you can ditch the useless job description and put one together instead that would actually be useful for you.
I have a confession to make. I hate job descriptions. I find they are useless. Not as useless as performance reviews, but pretty darn close.
I’ve found that when we don’t focus on the right things when we’re hiring someone for our company, instead, we focus on the easy stuff and it’s never the easy stuff that gets you the right person for your company. Now the easy stuff are the traits that they have to do and the technical skills they have to know.
That’s just the stuff that you have to get past before you even interview someone. Now today’s video is about how you can ditch the useless job description, put one together instead that would actually be useful for you when you’re hiring somebody and you’re putting out a job posting for someone to come and apply at your company.
So let’s jump right in.
Now let’s talk about what doesn’t work in most job descriptions.
Most job descriptions are too long and are not easily understood. There’s this laundry list of 10, 15, 20, I’ve seen as many as 50 things on a list that you’re supposed to do to be successful in a job. Well I’m gonna tell you, there is nobody in the universe that can focus on 10 items, much less 50 items, that they have to do to be successful.
Too often they’re just a laundry list of things that should be done, not a success factor for what you’re gonna use to evaluate whether somebody is doing a good job or not. In fact, success factors are usually only a few things. And we’re gonna get into that in a few minutes.
You know they focus on the technical skills of the job. Too often I’ve seen that laundry list. You have to be able to use Microsoft Word. You have to be able to use Microsoft Excel. You have to know how to use a contact relation manager. Well that may be all true, but those are subsets that combinated with a success factor in a job, it’s not what you wanna hire somebody for. If I’m an Excel wizard that doesn’t mean I’m gonna be any good at the job that you have open. If I can do everything that ever happened with Microsoft Word, or anything that can be done with Microsoft Word, well, most of the time that’s really not very useful for what you need to have happen to be successful in somebody you’re hiring.
You know the truth is these laundry lists, they ignore company values and what you have to do, what you have to be willing to do, to be successful in the job.
Now, let’s talk about what you should do.
When you’re putting together a job description I want you to take out a piece of paper and I want you to write down five bullet points, no more than five bullet points. It could be less than five bullet points. I want you to list the five things that would at most, the five things which are success factors for the job and only five. I don’t want you to have more than five. You could have less than five, but remember no more than five. These are the things that must be done if you’re going to be successful in the job that you have and you’re evaluating, or you’re posting for. They aren’t things like being able to use Excel, or Microsoft Word.
If, using Excel is key thing for your company, it’s a can do factor. In other words, to be successful in this job you need to know how to use Excel, what you wanna know is, okay if I’m grading using Excel that’s nice. What’s the outcome that you want from this activity? What is it about this activity that requires Excel, but it’s not Excel that you’re evaluating somebody on, it’s the outcome that Excel provides. You know there are things like, have our financial statements done and presented by the 15th of the month. Now that would be a success factor. Now an underlying thing is you would have to be able to know how to do bookkeeping. You would have to know how to use a bookkeeping system. Now let’s say you use QuickBooks in your company, it might be a requirement they understand how to use QuickBooks, but the success factor isn’t knowing how to use QuickBooks. The success factor is having the financial statements done and presented by the 15th of the month.
So let’s take a look at an example. Let’s say I’m hiring a sales person.
For some reason I love to use sales people as examples when I’m doing this. So here are some of the success factors that might be around a sales person’s job.
It might be one, to have five face-to-face calls a week with an A client. Now you have to define what an A client is. You have to define what a successful face-to-face call is. That means you have to have a definition of what the A client is, and a definition of what a success factor is for meeting a client. In other words, what has to happen at the meeting.
Second thing might be, put together a weekly list of 20 A clients to approach about our services. Again, we need to have that definition of what an A client is. Now you’re probably gonna wanna have to use a contact relation manager to do this. That’s a sub-factor for the success factor. It’s something that you need to know how to do to be successful in a job, but it’s not what measures your success. It’s putting together that list every week that would be the success factors.
The third thing might be making five calls a day to potential A clients. And again, this might be I know how to use my phone system, I know how to use our phone tracking system, I know how to integrate that into our CRM, so I can take notes on what happened, but it’s none of those things are success factors. The success factor would be making five phone calls a day to potential A clients.
And another one might be, have three calls a week with current clients, helping them to develop new uses for the products we serve. And again, it’s a CRM, it might be knowing how to use PowerPoint so you can make a presentation about that, or it might be using know how to take a note program so as you’re talking to the client you’re taking good notes.
The next one might be make two sales presentations a week to A clients to help them learn why they should do business with us.
Now you might notice that all five of these things require technical skills, but the technical skills are not the success factor. It’s the things that we’re doing, it’s the will do factors, the things that we actually do during the week that are gonna make us successful, or not successful in the job that we do. Now the other thing is, it’s much, much easier when you only have five things you’re looking at. And frankly if you’re looking at more than five things that make you successful in a job, you have too many things on your list. The people you’re hiring will not be able to focus on the important things that are not urgent. They’re gonna be chasing their tail all the time, tryin’ to figure out what they should be doing, when the truth is they only need to focus on three to five things to be successful. And you should only be looking at three to five things to evaluate whether they’re successful in their job.
Fourth, now let’s finally talk about values.
You know I wanna move over to our job description and how they should be talking about the values in your company, not the technical skills. You wanna have those success factors be at the top of your job description and then you wanna talk about how your values fit in with those success factors to make you successful in your job.
So you first have to list what the values are in your company. Then you have to have clarifying statements around each of those values, which are general clarifying statements. Then you wanna have specific clarifying statements that talk about how that works for your job.
So let’s use an example of personal responsibility. Our clarifying statement is personal responsibility means that we are responsible for what happens in our area, we don’t blame others and we don’t justify our actions. Now our clarifying statement for the job might be, personal responsibility means accepting responsibility when things go well, and accepting responsibility when things don’t go well. We don’t blame others or justify our mistakes. We learn from our mistakes instead. So there’s a clarifying statement around the sales job and what it means to fulfill that particular value.
So, let’s tie this into the sales person’s job. You are responsible for making sure that you only call on A clients. You will make sure that if you’re not sure what an A client is, you will get our definition of one and only call on those people. You are allowed to take incoming calls from others, but you will never do an outbound call to anyone but an A customer. Now are you gonna show that to somebody before they’re hired? No. Are you gonna use it as part of your interviewing skills? No. Are you gonna put that into a job description, or a job posting? You absolutely are not gonna do that. That’s used internally once you bring somebody onboard.
You do not use a statement like that before you bring somebody on, because it’s not gonna make any sense to them. You’ve not had a chance to onboard that person. You’ve not had a chance to talk to that sales person about how important that particular value is in the company and how it fits in.
So when you’re hiring for a position, you wanna use the five bullet points for the success factors at the top of your job ad. And then you wanna focus on your values, and have three times as many words about your values as about the success factors. The truth is if you’re hiring for values and you’re focusing on values, you should have more words in your job posting about what your values are. Forget the technical skills in the ad. If you focus on the results you want, the value you hold dear, you’re going to get a better person in your company.
This happened when we hired our last person. I had few things about what the job needed to be successful. I had five paragraphs about what the values were and we held dear. In Burlington, Vermont, we had a 3% unemployment rate, we had a 115 people apply, for a part-time job, and I had a hard time choosing which of our five finalists I wanted.
So what do you think about using a job description that’s based on bullet points and outcomes of what you want? Why don’t you let me know what you think in the comments below.
And while you’re at it, DOWNLOAD our Free eBook on Hiring For Unique Abilities. You’ll find a new way of hiring that fits right in with getting rid of your boring job descriptions.
Hey, this is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.