The value of getting the right people, in the right roles at your company goes much further than just getting the work done. No two people are completely interchangeable, though we operate as if this is true. Along with their skills and experience, each potential employee will bring with them their specific temperament, energy level and personality to the job. This means that, besides meeting the hard skill requirements for a job, the right candidate will also have the soft skills needed to thrive in the position in which you’re placing them. Before sitting down to write your job description, you need to figure out what little details will make or break a new hire. For instance: does this job require that they have excellent attention to detail? Will they need to be able to collaborate with their co-workers on a daily basis? Will they need to be self motivated or will they be working closely under a manager? Just as no two people are totally alike, the soft requirements for success as a sales person or a graphic designer at your company might be very different from that of your competitors.
Okay, so if you accept this premise that each job requires a very specific blend of professional know how and personality factors (being outgoing, analytically minded, a good listener, etc.), then why do you think that so many job descriptions still read like a shopping list? Well, the short answer is that a lot of people don’t think. Many businesses are so focused on hiring people with X years of experience and mastery of A, B & C programs that they neglect to mention anything about the other qualities that will make a person a success in that position. Things might work out fine with your new hire at first, but, when you fail to define the personality traits that translate into long term success at the job, you’re much likely to end up with someone who doesn’t stick around for too long.
The best way to figure out what kind of person your ideal candidate would be, try to recall the last few people to occupy that position. What about them made them great at the job at what personality traits ended up being professional obstacles for them? If your lead software developer will have to make frequent presentations on the progress of their projects to the higher-ups at your company, you definitely don’t want to onboard a wallflower with a propensity for mumbling.
Now for the job description itself. Once you’ve determined what made people successful at this job in the past, try to write it up in a compelling way. For instance you might need a:
“Creative design professional with the drive to see large projects through to completion. You will be working closely with both our marketing team as well as the heads of our Engineering and Manufacturing staff to launch a complete re-branding of our new line of mountain bikes. We’ll be taking weekly rides, so a helmet is a must!”
This little snippet lets the reader know what sort of work they will be doing, that the job will require them to work closely with a lot of people, that there is a tight knit company culture and that they need to be creative and have good aesthetics. By all means, include the experience requirements of the position, but do so after you’ve grabbed the reader’s attention. If there’s any doubt that your ideal candidate could read the ad and not think “Hey, that’s me!” then you probably want to work on a second draft.