Make your job description about your activities

Tips

Here’s how to write a job description that will attract the right candidates.

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”– Greg Anderson

Why Focus on Activities?

People are hired to perform value-adding activities. While companies have different approaches to how they hire, their goals are usually the same. Every company wants to hire high-performing people, not people who just look good on paper.

Despite this simple and obvious assumption, too many companies ignore activities and focus on things that don’t indicate performance. This happens at every stage of the hiring process. For example:

  • Many job descriptions focus on what candidates have done in the past
  • Screening is based on candidates’ backgrounds
  • Assessment methods often don’t simulate the tasks are performed in the role

Instead, use on-the-job activities as the guide for the entire hiring process. If you follow this principle, you will hire people who perform the value-adding activities you require.

Here’s how it works.

The Job Description

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll

Defining the role is the foundation of hiring. If you do that incorrectly, the entire hiring process will be steered in the wrong direction. The clearer you are, the higher your chances of attracting the person you want.

The problem with so many job descriptions is that they are aren’t linked closely enough to the daily activities of the job. Let’s change that.

A good job description should have three sections:

1. Start with why

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

This approach is entirely applicable to job descriptions. Sell candidates on your company’s vision and story. Sell them on the role and the culture. This will achieve two things. First, it is likely to increase the quality of applicants. Second, candidates will be more likely to invest in the application process and make an effort if they buy into your “why”.

Conversely, candidates who don’t relate to your vision or culture will opt out. Mission accomplished.

2. Describe the role in activities

Outline, point by point, what the successful candidate will do every day. Keep it simple and be very specific. No clichés, no jargon. Candidates need to understand how they will spend each day, what they need to achieve, who they’ll be working with and under what conditions.

This is a great way of managing expectations. By communicating to candidates what they’ll be doing in the role, you are forcing them to ask themselves whether they can do those activities well and how much they enjoy doing them. This presents another opportunity for less suitable candidates to opt out.

3. State your requirements

The previous two sections should make this part easy because you’ve set the scene. Candidates already know what your company stands for and what they’ll be doing in the role. Now you can add some more detail about the type of person you are looking for and how you expect them to approach the role.

Don’t worry about years of experience, grades in college or anything else that’s not activity-based. Bring it back to activities and use plain English.

Describe the kind of person you’re looking for by listing how you want them to approach the role. Put thing in context. Instead of “strong communicator”, write “clearly communicate customer feedback to the product team”. Instead of “flexible”, write “prepared to join calls with developers late at night when necessary”.

You should also use this section to articulate the attitude and behaviours you’d like to see. Candidates already know from the previous section what they’ll be doing on a daily basis. Now explain how.

Here are some examples of good job descriptions and a useful guide on how to write one.


Published by Vervoe on July 25, 2017

Written by Omer Molad

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