Hiring Right #2: The Job Description

Hiring Right #2: The Job Description


The Job Description


“Unless a firm engages in due diligence in hiring, it is a statistical certainty that the firm will eventually hire someone with a criminal record.” – Lester L. Rosen, author of “The Safe Hiring Manual,”  President of Employment Screening Resources (ESR)                  

Serious Business

          As seen in the previous chapter, hiring the right employee is serious business and must be done with care. The hiring process should not be entrusted to unskilled and untrained employees whose interest in the business and your future are not like yours. You as the CEO/Executive must get involved. You must not only weed out the bad, you must know how to find and keep the gold. It is your life you are dealing with. Formalize, do not leave it to guess work or allow arbitrates to creep in.



          When you consider the impact a new hire has on your future, good or bad, the idea of sorting through the good and bad is intimidating to say the least.  It is so important that there are large corporations that deal exclusively with selecting, interviewing and assisting in the hiring process.  Some refer to it as a dark art. It is daunting because a criminal or just bad hire can put you out of business or he may just be incompetent and that has long term costs. There are costs of having to re-start the search process again.

Check your own resources before looking abroad

Before looking outside, have you considered any internal candidates already on board? You may have a jewel you overlooked right in your organization who is perfect for the position you need to fill.  He or she only needs to be trained for this position and probably already knows something about it already. It is imperative that you have a job description.


Formalizing your job description

          A job description should be used as a formal and practical guide for hiring, staff planning, training, coaching and performance appraisal.  It should help you sort out tasks, work flows and responsibilities, enabling you to plan how your company or even a specific job will operate and grow.  But it is much more than just an administrative tool.

  • A job description should first set a clear purpose for the job as well as clear performance expectations. It is the first place to look if people aren’t doing what you expect them to do. Most job descriptions focus too much on tasks rather than being purpose driven.
  • Strategically, a well-developed job description provides an opportunity to clearly communicate your company direction and allows you to detect whether a future employee will fit or not with your business plans. Alignment with your goals and vision spells better chances of success for your clinic or organization.
  • A job description serves as legal protection against potential discrimination complaints. It provides written evidence that your employment decisions were based on a rational, business-needs oriented, legal foundation.
  • At the very beginning of your hiring process, it shows candidates what is expected of them and specifies minimum levels of acceptable job performance. It also satisfies a very human need: they feel more comfortable and more confident when they know what you want and expect from them.


Importance of the Job Description

Can you imagine going to work at a company and never really know just what your job is supposed to be? Suppose there was no job description, or it didn’t really describe the job you thought you were getting? It could be a nightmare job. But if you had a road-map and a compass as well as a standby guide on your trip through your working day, you would know what to do, what not to do, and how you can excel. It orients the employee as well as is the premier recruiting tool.


Factors involved

          Recruiting strong talent is tough. The big companies have the ability to get the best out there. How do you compete with them for great players? Statistics show that only 13% of the employed force in the US are truly engaged in their jobs, i.e., happy and moving toward personal and company goals. Hiring the wrong candidates is one of the most important reasons for disengaged employees and ineffective job descriptions aggravate the crisis, not to speak of the cost, time, and effort wasted. Why is this? Many times the job description failed to describe the job they applied for and now they have the job and are disappointed. Many company managers are lazy and just copy other job descriptions and send it out to recruiters, pulling in the wrong prospects for the job not properly described. The job description should be custom made for each job, time and circumstances.


How do you start and set it up to begin recruiting?

Define your company’s vision, mission and values: Show what it is like to work with your company. This is critical to attracting talent. This is especially true for millennials who are constantly looking to work with truthful and purpose-driven companies. Highlight the way your company works and gives back to the society. One way to do this is create an attractive website with photos of real employees carrying out real tasks at your business.


What do you need?

          You will be considering a hire when you have a need for a new person to fill a vacant spot just vacated by another, to handle a need that was created by vacancy or expansion, or you find that you simply need additional assistance in an area for more efficiency. Think of defining the job this new candidate will do in detail and put it in writing.

For too many employers, hiring is like playing Russian Roulette. Yet, if you properly formalize your procedure, it ceases to be a game of luck and provides you power of prediction.


What is a job description?

          These are written statements that describe the duties, responsibilities, and required qualifications for a particular job. They are based on objective information obtained through job analysis, an understanding of the competencies and skills required to accomplish needed tasks, and the needs of the organization to produce work. They clearly identify and spell out the responsibilities of a specific job.  They include information about working conditions, tools, equipment used, knowledge and skills needed, and relationships with other positions including the immediate boss. The employee must know what is expected. They can become a job plan and tell the employee how he or she fits into the big picture of the company’s mission and products.


          A good job description helps you align an employee’s direction with the direction of the company leadership, its mission, purposes, and goals. You must make sure the employee clearly understands what you need and want so that he or she can march in step with your rhythm and what you are working for as your own goals of the company. This starts with the job description. This is true whether recruiting externally or posting jobs for internal applicants.


Basic essential elements of a good job description

  • Job title and summary: A relevant title defines the general nature of a job effectively. A good job title must provide a sense of identity for the employee. It must concisely describe the position’s responsibilities, duties, nature of work, and purpose. An effective summary helps a reader quickly grasp whether the job fits him or her.


  • Competencies: Probably the most important part of the job description. The section on competencies describes the knowledge, skills, and capabilities required to be successful in the job. The description must be detailed enough for prospective candidates to determine if they have the experience and education to qualify for the position.


  • Work environment and activities: By providing a description of the work activities and the environment, you give a prospective candidate a very important reference to make a decision. This can include the immediate working environment, equipment, and software and hardware tools, extent of interaction with colleagues and management, the work schedule, and level of responsibility. It tells what it is like working day by day in the company, the culture of the environment, i.e., the type of people he or she would be working with. This is important.


  • Performance expectations: An effective job description must also detail expectations of performance, bench-marked to departmental and organizational standards of excellence. You can organize performance expectations according to the type of work activities or according to level of importance.


  • Compensation and benefits: You must set realistic expectations of compensation as well as any potential variable compensation components including sick leave pay time, bonuses, rewards, promotion. Compensation is an important factor in making a decision and is a frequent cause of lawsuits. It is critical that the job description defines the work elements that are evaluated when assessing salary grades if the hiring is based on experience. Finally, the job description must state if the individual is eligible for benefits.


  • ALWAYS! Add in your job descriptions wordings such as: “and other duties as assigned.” This allows adding new tasks to the position as needed. You may word it as “other administrative duties.” Many lawsuits are created when an employee is asked to do something other than in the job description and refuses as being made to do work never agreed to.

Job Description can be a blessing or a curse

          It is a blessing to make sure it is a clear guide to what is expected, the exact duties of the new hire, even giving flexibility of job and providing wording that will allow the employer to even change duties or responsibilities without liability.  These days it isn’t good enough to just run an office and be a professional or business person, you need to be a lawyer as well.

 Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

          You must be in compliance with this law. It will be covered in the next of this series. Here you are being forced to hire people who qualify for the job technically, but whom you may not otherwise prefer to hire because of some physical or other impairment.