The job description has been in use for many years and has moved company’s light years ahead of other companies. The reason is employees can work very effective when there is a description of what they are exactly supposed to do. This also helps the company by creating metrics to evaluate their progress. Imagine a hundred years ago when there was not a job description and how people were just told what to do. This can be pretty inefficient and make it difficult to compare how people are working. Job descriptions have come a long way, and most recently there has been another angle that discusses a different way of utilizing the job description when you are looking to fill positions. Instead of using typical job descriptions when looking to see if candidates are qualified to do the job, there has been discussed another way and it is called performance based hiring. Lou Adler is at the forefront of this topic and his explanations make you really look into how we are handling the hiring process through our use of job descriptions. He believes that most applicants are not even applying because of job descriptions that filter out to many good candidates. What is interesting is he believes that by using standard job descriptions for employment hiring may be weeding out candidates that may lack experience but make up for it in skills or knowledge learned. Could it be possible that we are not even seeing the best candidates because of a weak job description? What we will look at is the difference between a job description and a performance based hiring model. At the end we should be able to decide what best fits our needs.
Job descriptions are duties, responsibilities, who you report to, conditions that you will work in and what your supervisor’s role will be. This is giving you all of the relevant information you will need to succeed on the job. It also gives the employer a means to measure your efforts while working. For example knowing the specific duties or job tasks that will need to be performed. It can make things very clear to the employee of what he or she is expected to do. If you know what your duties are you, you will now the role you have, be efficient, and mindful which can lead to a higher performance rating rather than working without parameters or specific tasks. Again for the employer you have a very efficient employee who knows where they need to be and what they need to be doing. Chris Ceplenski wrote an article called “4 Benefits of Effective Job Descriptions” and states that there are 4 key points that you need to be aware of. First, is better recruitment, a well description of the job for the employee and employer stands out to be the best tool to communicate what the role of the job will be and the requirement? By doing this well, it can improve both internal and external recruitment and can retain and motivate the best talent by ensuring that employees expectations are aligned with business expectations of what the role entails (Ceplenski. 4 Benefits of Effective Job Descriptions). His second points are better compensation and to see its relevance in the market. Ceplenski discusses how having everything spelled out and up to date for the legal aspect is of high importance. One example is the Fair Labor Standards Act that discusses the exempt and non-exempt status of the job that then leads into overtime eligibility or not. And his final point is people planning where he believes this is extremely vital. The two examples that he lists are head count and succession planning. His head count describes what everyone should be doing across the company and will point out any roles that are not being utilized or are needed for future planning. Where succession planning he states that job descriptions will show the role of the employee with a future career path. He gives this a forward looking perspective when you are looking to hire and candidates are interested in the career path. The anatomy of a good job description needs organization information, a job summary, duties and responsibilities, working conditions, job specifications, disclaimer and signature approvals (Dye et al.)
Now we can take a look at another way of thinking. The typical bullet points or must have in a job description will still be there such as legal requirements. What we can look at now is the performance-based hiring process that is supposed to give your insight as to whether the candidate will be a right fit for the job. The definition of performance-based hiring was coined by Lou Adler and is a four step process for hiring that integrates sourcing, screening, interviewing, and recruiting into a seamless approach based on how top people look for jobs and why they accept one positons over another (Luceo, Go Beyond). Lou Adler discusses seven ways to achieve the performance based hiring process so that you can repeat the process long term.
- Move away from using the traditional job description for filling positions. He states that top people do not look for skills or experience but rather challenges and opportunistic value. When we write a job description instead of skills perhaps we should be listing the work that needs to be completed. Instead of specifying what needs to happen we could look at what results are need to define and complete the job requirement. The job description should be stating what the performance expectations are and what results are needed in order to accurately give a representation of the job. For example, if we state on a traditional job description that you need to lift fifty pounds on any given time, we may want to actually say what we are lifting. This can just give some insight to the requirements.
- To make the job description say what he people will actually be doing with the skills. This can be called a performance profile, and as Adler states, is the center piece of the performance based hiring. This will describe performance objectives and describes how this person that accepts the job to be successful. Lou states that it is different from the traditional job description and instead what the person needs to do in order to full fill the needs to be complete the job. He uses and example where “Have five years of accounting experience and a CPA,” and his suggestion is to “Complete the implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley reporting requirements by Q2.” You can see here that the wording actually can open the door to a lot more candidates that may be qualified to learn the skills.
- Look at ways to advertise for the positions. Are they “based on how the best look for jobs”? There are different avenues to use to help you find the right person or for that matter the top talent pool. Adler discuses developing multiple channels and “based on quality, cost and time” and work each channel for optimization. Some examples of the avenues to look through are resume databases, internal transfers, internet-based advertising employer referrals, recruiting from college, job fairs are one of many ways to grab talented people.
- Disregard the questions that are not relevant. Instead ask questions about the person’s accomplishments in the past while observing how this person has grown. You can gain valuable information by asking what achievements has the person made or their most recent accomplishments. You can assess the person’s ability on what they say but also in how they say it. Asking a question as to what accomplishment stands out the most to you that you have done and then describing it. Adler believes that getting the right answer to this question will tell you everything you need to know in order make a hiring decision.
- Hiring people who can do the work and are competent. To assess true motivation, you will need to look for multiple examples of where the person has excelled at and the underlying environment and circumstances (Adler, Hire with Your Head). Looking at their examples they give and whether they are consistent will tell you that there is some measureable performance that has happened in the past.
- In order for us to properly assess a candidate, we need to be able to keep our emotions in check so that we can make a sound and thoughtful judgment during the hiring process. You are wanting to collect relevant information during the interview to help make your assessment.
- The final point, you will need to be strong at recruiting during times of increased talent. This will give you the opportunity to hire top talent on a regular basis. There will be at times that the top talent is being heavily recruited by other companies. You then need to be able to essentially fight for them to be interested in your positions and nothing can help more but having a performance based hiring process in place to help you land the right people for the right job.
This is very interesting way to look for prospective employees. Lou discusses that it is important to look for people on what they can do on year one instead of what they can do on day one. This opens the door for more candidates who may not have the proper job description. It can focus on what they can learn, what their abilities are to perform over time. Hiring a person who has the experience and skills might look good on paper, but they may be missing on the ability to perform their job to the company’s expectations. We have probably at one point in our lives seen in the work place people get hired for the skills and education and only to fail at the performance aspect and either quit or get fired. Take a Chef who is applying for a job and he is a well-seasoned and veteran Chef of fine dining. He has all of the skill and experience needed. This person may fit everything to perfection when it comes to using the traditional job description. Unfortunately this person had a performance issue and could not meet expectations because he was not aware of the results oriented business that this was. Now we have a Chef who has previously worked at Chipotle, a lower end fast food place as compared to the previous candidate. This person did not have all of the skills and experience as the fine dining Chef had. He was lacking in fine dining because it just did not have that experience. So what this person does have by using a performance based hiring technique is the ability, the motivation, the drive and the high performance goal oriented mind set to actually learn everything and be accomplished on year one instead of day one. Sometimes we need to look further into the mindset of a candidate to see what they capable of doing and what they are not are. With traditional job descriptions we are really looking for someone to fill shoes. What we really need to be looking at his someone who can walk in their own shoes.
- Adler, Lou, The essential guide for Hiring and Getting Hired. Lou Adler, 2013
- Adler, Lou, Hire with your Head. New Jersey: Wiley, 2007
- Luceo, Go Beyond: Performance Based Hiring: luceosolutions.com
- Griswold, Allison. “What employers Get Wrong When Writing The Job Description.” Business Insider. 15 Oct. 2013 Web. 8/1/2015
- Jagoe, Andy. “The Most Dangerous Threat to your Startup Hiring Efforts.” Venture Grit. 2015 Web 8/1/2015
- Dessler, Gary, Human Resource Management 14th Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc., 2015
- Ceplenski, Chris. “4 Benefits of Effective Job Descriptions.” HR Daily Advisor
- Dye et al. “Well Written job descriptions are worth the effort.” www.purdue.edu/hr/LeadingEdition/Ledi_404_job_descriptions.html