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Apr 3, 2018 | Barry Lawrence, MBA, aPHR, HRCI Staff Writer

Honing the Company Voice in Hiring

Generic job titles and standard lists of qualifications, responsibilities and duties are not just boring. They're ineffective.

Imagine an online dating profile that said, “Must be this tall, must earn this income, must own this kind of house and car. Please apply here!” Great.

Yet that’s how most job descriptions are written. Think about it: Your company doesn’t need to hire a generic person. Your company needs to hire one great person—and that means communicating to your future employee in such a way that he or she will truly want to become part of your team.

While this takes some effort, it’s worth it when you find the right hire. That person will not only contribute immediately, but will also be a valued member of the team who can grow into more advanced positions in the organization.

A generic description will often lead to a generic response. That’s why a great job posting can seem almost like a personal letter to that one stand-out candidate. Devote some serious thinking to both the skill set and the personality traits required for the position.

“When people are thinking about leaving their current role,” says Tara Dresen, SPHR, Chief HR Officer of TwentyEight, a company specializing in leadership and sales performance, “they are looking for allure. They want to be attracted by something—in their minds it could be brand or reputation, a great leader who works there, company size, industry, the perfect job. All of these are just notions. The beauty of a job description is the ability to succinctly turn perception to reality in the blink of a statement. So, make every statement count. If, as an HR professional, you aren’t proud of a job description, don’t do your company a disservice by posting it.”

Before you start, answer four questions:

  • What is the real business need that we’re looking for someone to address?
  • How will we quantitatively measure success so we can recognize a top performer?
  • What are the common attributes of our top performers: their hard skills, their soft skills, what they do in their free time?
  • Why would the right person want this job?

Answer these questions, and then it’s easy to create a job posting that will attract the ideal candidate.

For example, say you need to hire a chief marketing officer. CMOs already know what CMOs do. What they don’t know is why they should care about your job: emotionally, functionally, and in terms of personal and career growth.

That’s why a great job description—one that is authentic to your company and your culture—is a reflection of the company itself. If your employees work long hours and weekends and love doing so because they thrive on intensity, enjoy working with dedicated teams, and want to make a lot of money, say so. Say, “You will love it here because you will … ”

The right person is looking for “you will.”

And keep in mind that the right candidate could currently be employed; if he or she isn’t actively looking for a job—the job your company has open—you must find ways to grab that person’s attention. That’s where a strategically minded HR team comes in. A best-in-class HR specialist knows how to craft a job description and develop a recruitment strategy that will jump out at potential candidate, one that just might open the door to a serious conversation.

Say your company has multiple facilities across the world and you are looking for a chief technical officer. Describe the style of management, the size of the staff and the size of the budgets managed. List current and future initiatives. Describe how success is defined. Explain why the right person will love the job.

“Most people stay at organizations for three reasons: the leadership of the company, the culture that exists and the team the role sits within,” Dresen says. “How many job descriptions talk about this? Many hint at culture, but leadership and team are often remiss. Imagine if a company could honestly discuss this and have every social media comment back this up? It would be an evolution. That’s how great people are attracted to a company and why it’s important to be honest from the start in order to retain them.”

Chances are the right person isn’t looking for a job, but someone he or she knows will forward the job posting. Then, that person will apply, thinking, “Wow. This sounds exactly how I would describe my perfect job.”

Friends and colleagues will never forward generic job postings, but they will forward a job posting that sounds perfect, even if their friend already has a job. That’s why a great job posting can go viral in a very targeted way.

The goal is to cast a net that is incredibly broad in terms of promoting the opportunity and incredibly fine when it comes to connecting on the professional and personal levels.

Remember, you don’t need scores of people to respond to your job posting. You need just one—the right one.