I’m overseeing the hire of a new leadership position. We want to post the position online, but there are so many options, including up-sells to “featured posting” and the like. How do I write a compelling job description that will attract top-notch potential employees, and how do I best use my dollars — some of these sites are expensive!
You have two issues here. The first is “How do I write a compelling job description?” and the second is “What on earth do I do with it once it’s written?” Let’s address these separately, starting with the job description.
How to write a job description
I’m going to be honest: Most job descriptions are awful. They are vague, full of jargon and could be used to justify just about anything. Most are written by people who have never actually been in that position, so they miss many key functions. What people see you doing is generally only a small portion of what is actually done. I say all this to make you sit up straight and think, “Gee, this is going to take more than 15 minutes!”
Being honest is critical in a job description. If you keep things back in the job description, you’ll attract the wrong people. Here are the things you should always include in a job description, but especially in a leadership position:
Necessary skills: Think clearly about this. What skills does the person truly need versus what skills would be nice to have? This is a leadership position, so how important is the managing skill over the doing skill?
When hiring for leadership, we often fret over finding a person who can do all of the jobs that they are managing. Sometimes this is critical and sometimes not. If the person is going to oversee the implementation of a multi-million-dollar enterprise software system, she probably doesn’t need to know how to write code herself. However, if she’s going to be managing a small IT department and a good portion of her job will be to write or review code, then coding is a necessary skill.
Nice-to-have skills: These are things that are not deal-breakers but are nice to have. You could think of a million skills that would be great, but limit it to ones that would strongly influence your hiring decisions. If this is a call center manager position, and you have Spanish speaking employees, it would be nice — but maybe not essential — if the head of the center spoke Spanish.
Responsibilities: This is what most people think of when they think job description. Be specific. Don’t write, “Oversees department.” Write, “Manages department with seven direct reports and 23 indirect reports.” Don’t write, “Controls budget.” Write, “Controls $2.3-million budget.” The details here are critical. If this position manages a huge budget, you don’t want to waste your time with people who have never done more than manage an office supply budget.
A typical day/week: This is pretty rare to see in a job description, but if you want your job description to pop off the page and attract the right people, this is pretty handy. Instead of just listing responsibilities, explain how they fit in. Does this job require a lot of meetings? If so, with whom? Does this job require a lot of project management? Is that done alone or in conjunction with another department? What level of employee does this position supervise? Are there often disciplinary issues? How much time is spent in email?
This type of information gives critical insight that helps someone decide if a job is for them. And it saves you time and energy by weeding out applicants not suited for the work flow.
Where to post the job
You’ve got an awesome job description, but what do you do with it? You want to attract the best candidates for the least amount of money. For a super-critical, high-level position, you might want to jump straight to a commission-based headhunter. But for most jobs, you won’t need to go that far. Here are the do’s and don’ts:
Post it on your own website. People who have visited your website are interested in your specific company. That’s already a plus.
Post it on niche websites. You want to attract people who are looking in your industry or in the specified position. This means, of course, that you could post your CFO position on one niche board and your HR director position on another.
Post it on local job boards. Unless your position is so specific it requires a rare skill set, you want someone local anyway.
Share some information and a link to your own company website on social media, especially LinkedIn and Facebook.
Ask your current employees for referrals. Use your network to find applicants, just like you would use it to find yourself a job.
Post it to the big boards like Monster and Craigslist. Sure, everyone goes there, but — trust me — you don’t want everyone applying.
Post it on too many job boards. Save yourself money by targeting.
Pay for the “featured job” up-sell. Most applicants will use the search function to find the jobs they are looking for. As long as the position is listed, the right applicants will be able to find it. If you do pay extra, do it on a niche website where the value is greater.