It should come as no surprise there that is some controversy surrounding the idea of traditional job descriptions in the modern day hiring process. There seems to be two angles to consider: job descriptions created by passive recruiters that are just part of a standard procedure, and highly detailed performance-based job descriptions. Is this a matter of opinion or does one side truly make the most sense?
Passive Job Descriptions
Let's start with the passive group. These are the folks that use stock job descriptions to attract the largest candidate pool they can. However, come interview time, the interviewer may never refer to the job descriptions. In fact, many times the interviewer had nothing to do with the creation of the description in the first place. This can cause a lot of confusion in the workplace, and create an unpleasant experience for the candidates.
Mary Wright’s perspective in a Blogging4Jobs post explains why this method is flawed. She believes that descriptions should be tailored to fit the needs of each participant in the hiring process: Managers and Supervisors, Human Resources professionals, Interviewers, and Candidates.
Whether the interview be performed by management or not, Wright says it is important that the
interviewer collaborates with human resources when drafting a description. Here is the bare minimum
of what a good job description should include, according to Wright:
What are the duties of the position that needs filling?
1. What are the essential functions of the vacant position?
2. What are the physical requirements that must be met to perform the essential functions?
3. What is the reporting structure?
4. To whom does the employee report?
5. Who reports to the employee?
6. What is the nature of the relationship?
7. Is the individual to be hired as an employee? And if so, are they exempt or
8. Is the individual to be hired as an independent contractor?
9. What are the required hours?
10. How many hours per week are required? Is the employee full- or part-
Sourcing and marketing also play a role in the description process. If you throw a large net you’ll catch a
lot of fish. This isn’t a good thing. It is their responsibility to determine where to dip the line to find the
most promising candidates. “If your company is looking to hire an accountant for the California finance department, advertise the job to the California Society of CPAs. A complete, in-depth description of duties, skills, education and experience, can direct you to websites, or blogs that identify your perfect candidate (often by name!) and help focus your marketing efforts,” Wright says. Good job descriptions go out, good candidates come in.
The New Era of Job Descriptions
Lou Adler believes the current way of writing job descriptions is flawed. In his article on TLNT, Adler argues
that attracting highly experienced applicants is not the best approach. This is because there is some 80% of fully qualified candidates that never applied. So when you choose the best of the applicants in your pool, you’re not necessarily choosing the best individual for the job.
Adler believes it would be more effective to evaluate potential hires with performance-based job descriptions, also known as performance profiles. A performance profile describes the work that a person needs to successfully accomplish during the first year on the job. This opens the door for a more diverse candidates, such as military veterans and those who haven’t yet stacked their resumes with measurable skills, increasing the potential that you find the most perfect fit for the position.
Like Wright's, Alder's is approach is very much rooted in quality over quantity, but they way they go about finding these candidates coulden't be more different. Adler wants to know who can make the most with what they’ve got. It’s these kinds of people that will go above and beyond when given increased resources and opportunities. What good is fifteen years of experience if the performance doesn’t correlate?
If the supply of sufficient applicants is lower than the demand, jobs descriptions should never be used.
“Since we promote people based on their performance, why don’t we hire them the same way?” Adler
So what’s the verdict? While both may have their place now, I feel that using performance based job descriptions will become the norm in the next 10 years. It's the best way to reel in candidates that are worth your time and are willing to hit the ground running.
What do you think? Are you using performance-based job descriptions or willing to make the switch? Let's chat about it in the comments!