How to avoid a bad fit in your job description
When writing a job description, you want to focus on attracting the right candidate. That sounds obvious, but a lot of employers focus on getting the best possible candidate on paper. We find that our customers are more successful when they look for the right employee for them.
So what is the difference?
We all have ideas of what we think we want in cars. I always thought my dream car was a 1967 Ford Mustang convertible. That was until I rented a newer convertible Mustang during a business trip last year. Thirty minutes after driving it off the lot with the top down, I pulled off an exit and put the top back on. It stayed on for the rest of the trip.
It turns out my lack of hair makes it so the top of my head burns tomato-red whenever it’s in the sun for too long! ‘67 Fastback (a hardtop) it is!
How well do you actually know yourself and your business?
When writing a job description, are you writing an idealized description of who you want? Or are you writing a realistic, honest description aimed at attracting the right person?
So what does this mean?
Let’s look at three areas where you can do some self-exploration before writing your next job description.
What is your company culture?
Culture is the collection of behaviors and shared experiences that makes you…well, you.
Is punctuality important to you? More so than staying extra hours? Do you want entrepreneurial team members, or would you rather have people who are more compliant and are more likely to follow well? Do you reward creativity or structure? You can like both, but if you force yourself, which side of the river are you on?
Write down a few ideas or values that come up for you. Now look at this list and compare it to your last job post. Are these values present in your last post? If not, make sure you next post reflects your culture.
Who are the current employees that make you happy? The ones you would hire again regardless of where you went? What do they have in common? If you sit down and write it down, you might surprise yourself.
Once you write down what they have in common, separate those traits into two clear buckets: 1) Skills that can be trained, and 2) Traits that you consider to be innate.
Now you should be left with a handful of innate traits that your best employees have. Build a job description around that and you will be well on your way.
This exercise is simple, but tough. Do it.
OK, so we all have dealbreakers. Whether it’s apartments/houses, romantic interests, or candidates applying to your job, we all have a secret (or not so secret) list of things that immediately disqualify a prospect.
It’s OK, it’s human nature.
At the same time, it’s worth dusting those off and writing them down. Come on, be honest. If you really can’t think of any, ask the people you work with, they’ll probably help you uncover your own blind spots.
Ok, now that you have that list, compare it to the two lists you already made. Are your dealbreakers consistent with your culture and the behaviors your current star employees exhibit?
You want everything to dovetail together. If your most valued employees tend to be 15 minutes late, but work harder than everyone else, will you disqualify an interviewee who got “stuck in traffic?”
Putting it all together
Preparation + Self-knowledge + Consistency = Good Employee Fits = Hiring Success
Like most success recipes, there is no silver bullet. If you do the work to prepare for your job post, you are honest with yourself, and you write things down so you are consistent in applying your learnings, you will significantly increase the percentage of employees you hire who are a good fit and help you meet your business goals.
You also want to follow a good structure with your job posts. Here is a set of templates you can customize.
Have any stories of bad fits at your company? Was your convertible Mustang what you thought it would be?
Pablo Fuentes is the CEO of Proven. He is a graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and UCLA. He is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and a blues guitar player and builder.