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Roadmap to Placement Success…The Position Description

Posted By: Mike Fitzgerald | Posted on: 11-13-2019
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Does your position description simply list what the candidate needs to have in experience and core competencies to be considered for the job, or does it also clearly articulate what successful candidates need to do to get the job done…and just as importantly, succeed in the company culture?

Is the position description written for today, or does it express what you hope can be accomplished in the role by someone who hits the ball out of the park?  Can your candidates learn how they might grow along with the company?  Is the position description consistent with the expectations of the hiring manager, the candidate’s future peers and other key members of the management team?

In effective recruiting, we’re reaching out to potential candidates who aren’t necessarily looking to change jobs when we call or post an opportunity. Almost always, we have a polite conversation about the value of the company and the opportunity, and the candidate wants more information before considering it further.  In every instance, a clear position description can set the table for more effective follow-up conversation with the right people.

I sat on the hiring side of the desk for many years.  We often viewed a position description as a mundane, necessary task in grading a position or beginning the search process. That’s a common view, and it’s wrong.  Instead, the position description should be the first step in the sales process that ultimately leads to the placement of the right person.  The position description is often the candidate’s first glimpse at your company’s story, the strategic value of the open position, and the core competencies required. It should start with extensive interviews inside the organization to learn what the candidate must accomplish, and what kind of person can work successfully inside the company.

It’s relatively easy to write a traditional position description that lists the skills, experience and core competencies you’re looking for in candidates.  It takes a fresh perspective to create a marketable position description.  Beginning the process with a clean slate is the best place to start.  We use the old position description as a guide, but for the most part, we simply refer back to it to make sure we covered all the bases when we’re done.  Instead, we like to begin by asking the right questions of the right people in the company.  From there, we’ll integrate what we learned with the specific skills, talents and experience we often find listed in the existing position description.

It’s still necessary to list the core requirements.  The position description becomes marketable when you convert requirements to expectations, tasks to deliverables, and the attitudes and behaviors that are required of the culture.  Include the value proposition of the company and the opportunity, and the cultural integration requirements, and your position description becomes an important sales tool in the recruitment process.

Here’s a checklist for creating a marketable position description:

  • Include a broad value statement on the company.  Summarize the company’s history.  Offer a position statement for where the company is now and offer a vision for where the company is going.  Can the candidate learn the strategic or business challenges facing the company?
  • List the skills, talents and experience a successful candidate needs to have, but pay equal attention to what the candidate needs to do to be successful.  Beyond listing minimum requirements, tell the candidate what needs to be accomplished for the company out of that experience or skill.
  • Approach the position description from a fresh perspective.  If there was an incumbent in the position, what did you learn from his or her strengths and weaknesses?  What must this person do differently to succeed?
  • Prioritize the deliverables and build consensus beyond the hiring manager.
  • Offer a bullet list that describes the culture of the company and suggest the kind of person that fits the team.
  • Offer a link to the company’s website, or to other resources that include investor relations presentations, research reports and product descriptions.
  • Finally, read the position description as objectively as you can from the perspective of the potential talent pool.  Can you get excited about the company and the opportunity?  Can you learn and grow in the new job?
  • Writing a marketable position description is a core strength of Fitzgerald MSI.   We can help you look at each opportunity from a fresh perspective and anticipate many of the answers the most qualified candidates will have. Contact us today to get started!
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Mike Fitzgerald 16 Posts

Fitzgerald MSI provides clients with a talent management framework that helps them make better hiring, advancement and talent development decisions. We identify how people process information and make decisions, predict how they are motivated, and suggest how well they fit into the client’s culture. We help clients select the right people, and accelerate the onboarding and assimilation process to make them more productive, more quickly. And we help clients improve relationships among and between teams, manage training and development gaps, and identify next-generation managers and executive leadership. Mike Fitzgerald, the president of Fitzgerald MSI, created the company in 2002 to help clients achieve peak performance to improve the client experience, improve efficiency and productivity and enhance revenue. Clients include E *TRADE, TransAmerica, Direct General Insurance, HarlandClarke, Cendant Corporation, State Bank Financial Corporation, ING DIRECT (now Capital One), CHD Meridian Healthcare, Radio-One, Wilmington Trust Company, and more. Fitzgerald is a former chief talent officer, president and CEO, chief operating, officer, and sales, leader. He is a certified practitioner in the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) and Hogan assessments. He’s been a consultant to Fortune-100 companies, startups, turnarounds, and served as an executive officer for companies as large as $4 billion. He’s an Economics graduate from the University of Massachusetts, a frequent speaker at industry events, and the author of three books on service quality, client experience management, and business communications.