Far too many position descriptions are complicating the recruitment process, rather than helping recruiters to recruit the right person. Good recruitment always starts by having a crystal clear understanding of what the role is (and not is). This is also fundamental for any advertisement, as role clarity is the key for finding the right person.
As I indicated in a previous blog, having a well-written role competency profile is critical - not a flowery or generic description of tasks that make it impossible to understand what the top two or three outcomes are for the next six to twelve months.
There are five major flaws
with position descriptions:
1. Most of them are too generic. They look like they have been produced in code to fit some job evaluation system and produce no clear understanding of the challenges.
2. They are often out of date and have no real resemblance of what is actually happening in these roles currently.
3. The previous incumbent was never involved in developing the position description and the recruiting manager has drafted it based on their limited understanding.
4. The position description is a long list of tasks and how the role should be done, rather than clear outcomes.
5. Most position descriptions are too long and are not used by either the manager or the employee or referred to on a regular basis.
is the process of providing recruiters with the knowledge and understanding of the specific expectations of the manager and the business for a particular role.
A good position description, I prefer to refer to it as a Role Competency Profile, only needs to be 2 or 3 pages. It should clearly highlight the following role dimensions: Key goals, expected outputs and the critical competencies required.
Perhaps this is why many recruiters compile their own description of the role as part of the briefing due to inadequacies of most position descriptions. Even then, you often find it is a moving target, as managers change the role as result of the first wave of interviews, using the interviewees in typical “ready-fire-aim” fashion as cannon fodder to calibrate their thinking, before embarking on another recruitment campaign much to the frustration of everyone.
Some years ago I had to recruit a new Business Development Manager, following a restructuring of the Sales function along customer segments. The COO brushed off the need for a position description with the words: “ You know exactly what we are looking for as you were managing the change process”. When I presented him with my interpretation of the role competency profile, it took five drafts before we had an agreed document. During that drafting process, we both fine-tuned our understanding to ensure alignment with the new sales strategy. Only then could we start our recruitment process.
A meaningful position title is another story, which I will cover in a future blog, as a confusing job title often only attracts a large number of unsuitable applicants.
Role clarity is the starting point
of good recruitment. Unless you can confidently exclaim (or sing) “I can see clearly now”
, you are seeing dimly in a mirror, knowing only in part, writing another generic ad!