How to Write a Realistic Job Description
If you’ve ever visited one of the popular online dating sites and taken the opportunity to review the profiles of those seeking the “right” person for what they consider an “ideal” relationship you’ll notice a common theme on many of them. The profile of the person they seek is perfect…literally perfect.
The list of things they’re looking for goes on and on with all kinds of requirements, interests, and qualities. Do people like that really exist?
What if these folks approached their search with somewhat more realistic expectations, and just included of a few of the non-negotiable must have’s instead of listing out every little thing that would be “ideal”? What if they included a little bit of info on what’s truly important to them (their values), and why those things matter? What if they stuck to the “must have’s” and allowed for someone to learn/develop certain interests or qualities over the course of a relationship?
If they were to sit around and wait for someone who met all their “ideal” requirements they could be waiting a very long time, and interact with very few people. At the end of the day, they might actually keep themselves from meeting someone really great; someone who has qualities they never expected or thought to ask for in a person.
Attracting Talent in the workplace is not all that different than attracting the right person for a personal relationship…a wider net gives you a larger pipeline, more choices, and offers opportunities to include those with unique skills and experience.
The “attraction” process often begins with a simple job description. Much like the online dating profile, many job descriptions are loaded with requirements; full of ideal qualities and skills, and ultimately pretty limiting in terms of whom might actually be “right” for the job.
The most effective job descriptions are those that stick to core requirements—what is absolutely essential to performing the functions of the role. Including an outline of how performance will be measured also provides a standard for both the individual and the manager. Allow for some of the “ideals” or nice-to-have skills to be learned and developed along the way. Often those “nice to have” skills change as the business changes. Good job descriptions also include something of the core values and the behaviors that exhibit those values. The potential for success in a role is much greater when you seek to match the core skills and values rather than focusing strictly on the never ending list of technical skills and experience requirements.
Here are some simple rules for writing a realistic but effective job description; one that is likely to apply to a range of different individuals who can perform the job, and without limiting the possibilities for potential in the role:
- Outline the primary, or core responsibilities of the role. This will also assist managers by providing clear objectives and standards for the role.
- Stick to “must have” requirements—what skills are absolutely necessary to performing the job outlined?
- How will performance be measured in the role?
- Include a couple of the company core values as well as the key behaviors that exhibit these values.
Core requirements…simple, straightforward, and clearly outlined. Effective, realistic, and applicable to a wider range of potential talent. Now that’s absolute perfection.