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Good Job Descriptions. . . and How to Get Them

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Job descriptions are routinely neglected, and that is a recipe for disaster.

Outdated, poorly characterized, inaccurate or misrepresented job descriptions are among the most common reasons people leave companies or are terminated.

Most companies do have job descriptions, but rarely are they current, nor are they accurate representations of the responsibilities and objectives.

Doing this right starts with creating a functional job description, the first step in preparing to hire a person.

Finding the right person is never easy, especially for those critical roles requiring leadership and/or technology prowess. Determining fit is based on the perception of how well a candidate matches up with the most critical needs/qualifications. To do that, you must know all the job responsibilities, and their order of importance.

Carefully crafted job descriptions define responsibilities, expectations and deliverables, along with the skills and expertise required.

One of the best ways to insure the right fit in your hire is by using an outcome-based job description, addressing why the position is relevant and necessary.

Such a format defines the measurable goals and deliverables for the person in the role, acting as a critical guide for measuring the person’s effectiveness and level of success.

For example, Company Y is looking to alleviate inventory control issues (reducing scrap, lowering inventory levels and increasing overall efficiency for delivery of products on time). An objective in the job description could read:

Ensure all inventory items are accounted for so we can

meet requirements with minimal inventory on hand,

reducing our need to store unnecessary stock and getting

our products delivered on time and as efficiently as possible.

A results-oriented job description defines what the successful outcome would be for a company to achieve its mission or goals, and then defines the tasks and duties needed to accomplish those goals.

It would be extremely rare for one person to be an exact fit, and it is difficult to predict the wildcard of willingness or motivation. Still, having a well-defined job description minimizes confusion by clearly stating the challenges, needs and deliverables.

Devising an accurate job description is a collaborative effort. People being hired will not usually be contributing strictly within a single department.

If the position requires working in a cross-functional role, those other groups should have input – they are the best people to know the risks and rewards for performance in the collaborative role. Identifying all the beneficiaries for a job well done across those departments makes accountability easier to track and measure.

In general, many business owners feel overwhelmed, wondering why things aren’t working as planned.  Often, it’s because expectations have never been fully defined.

If you don’t have the staff to commit the time and resources needed to fully develop your job descriptions, there are plenty of talented consultants who offer the service.

A close friend and affiliate, John Gaudet (http://jgaudetassociates.com) has been in the HR /consulting business for 30 years. He’s passionate about developing job descriptions:

          “If I could only do one thing, it would be helping companies

          with their job descriptions. Setting clear expectations, outcomes,

          and position agreements.  What does a good job outcome look           

          like?  Accomplishing the primary goals of a position,   

          the vision/mission for any position.”

There’s way too much at stake for making the wrong hire. Estimates range from 2.5 to 8.5 as a multiplier of the person’s annual salary.   If you don’t have a solid job description, don’t make a hire.

     Don’t hire without it.

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