How To Write A Kick Ass Job Description
Earlier this week, I had dinner with two friends who happen to also be entrepreneurs (one owns a yoga studio, the other a home renovation construction company). We started lamenting our small business owner struggles and a common theme was arising. No matter our industry, we are all challenged to find amazing people to support our dream, an essential element to growing a business.
It made perfect sense to ask my good friend, Liz Funke of Funk-e Consulting, this question: “How do you find awesome people to help grow a business?” What she shared was an amazing insight. It all starts with a kick-ass job description (her words).
Today I am sharing a guest post from Liz with How-To’s from her experience as a recruiter and small business owner herself.
Her approach is one that I completely support! When you are recruiting for a new hire, you are advertising your business. In many cases, people applying to your open position are also potential customers for your business. If you treat them with the same respect (even if you decline to hire), they can become advocates for your business. Check out her tips for finding the right people below:
Most job descriptions make your eyes bleed. That’s a horrible way to start a relationship with a potential employee. You can change that experience in 10 minutes with the following suggestions.
Start with an existing job description. It was probably written 10+ years ago, but that’s ok, I’m here to help.
What is this employee really doing? Generally, the job description doesn’t answer this question – and it’s the big question. What’s the day-to-day? It’s really helpful to chat with an employee already doing this job to help you understand and redefine what you are looking for.
2. Delete ALL Your Jargon
It makes you sound like a robot. Seriously. Eww – who wants a robot as a boss? I’m sure you have something better to say. Replace all jargon with real words. Clear, plain language always wins. See the example below:
Bad Example: Guides accounting clerical staff by coordinating activities and answering questions.
Great Example: You will mentor fellow coworkers, answer questions and plan awesome events.
2.a “Soft Skills” are also Jargon
Get rid of that crap. If I see another job description that mentions “team player, excellent communicator and results oriented” I might scream. What does any of that mean? Who’s going to say, "well… I’m a crappy team player, so I shouldn’t apply for this job"?... No one. So don’t waste your time. Go back to #1 and Redefine what you need. Write a story around it.
3. Death to Passive Voice!
Passive voice is the death of great communication. Change the voice of your job description to second person. Change “the successful candidate” to “you.” Pretend like the candidate is sitting in front of you and write it to them. Would they be bored to tears if you read it out loud? Write it TO them, not AT them. Here’s a quick read on 2nd person as a great refresher.
4. Storify the Job
What are they really doing on a day to day basis? Chat with your existing employees that currently perform this role. What would they have wanted to know before they applied? Make it into a metaphor. Start with that first in the job description.
5. Scare Them Away
With the story above, be sure to scare away the people who would not be a good fit for your job. In doing that, you will attract the right people who will thrive in your environment.
Example blurb from one of my job description ‘stories’: “You are the only person you know who can MacGyver your way out of an outlaw shootout with a can of baked beans and a rattlesnake. Problems don’t scare you – heck, that’s where the adventure comes from.”
(Here, I’m scaring away people who need a lot of stability in their work environment and attracting problem solvers with an adventurous flair, because that’s what this client’s environment calls for)
6. Get Rid of Requirements
Seriously. Only leave one or two. The bigger laundry list you create, the more likely you will never find this person. Does this person really need a degree? Why? Yes, they might need experience, but don’t list a set number of years of experience needed. ‘X years of experience required’ is totally arbitrary. Don’t do it. One person doing the same thing for five years has completely different experience than another employee with one year of experience at a different company. The 1 year of experience might be more suited to the TYPE of experience you are looking for. So don’t base it on years of experience – base it on TYPE of experience needed to do the job well. Use a requirement like, “You completed X number of (specific) projects in one year.” …Make sense? Measure the work, not the time.
7. Bonus Points: Make it Visual
Make your job description into an infographic or graphic novel. (I’m making a graphic novel right now for a client). Would you apply to a company that had an infographic job description for a job you qualified for? (of course you would!) See… being different works.
It doesn’t matter what you do to stand out, just be different in your approach to hiring. If you make the tiniest creative splash, you will be noticed and great employees will want to work for you. You only get out of the hiring process what you put into it. Effort in = effort out. (Duh)
Be different. It’s worth it.
Funke is on a mission to revamp the entire hiring industry. The hiring process is broken, and she's focused on putting the Human Experience back into Human Resources.
She earned a BFA in Sculpture from VCU which has inspired her creative approach to candidate experience and employer branding. She crafts unique moments that get candidates talking about your company and connect them to the larger story and culture of your business. She's so serious about making hiring fun that she send offer letters with exploding boxes of confetti and balloons.