Define and communicate job requirements

ESTIMATED READING TIME – 4:00

Learning goals for this activity

– Understand why defining and communicating job requirements is important to talent optimization.
– Be able to list and describe the three steps to take when defining job requirements.
– Identify who should be considered as stakeholders when identifying job requirements, and describe why stakeholder involvement is a critical component of this step.
– Identify questions to consider when defining a job.
– Explain how people data can help you create a compelling job advertisement.

Why defining and communicating job requirements is important to talent optimization

If the members of the hiring team don’t fully understand the intricacies of the job, they’ll be hard-pressed to match the right candidate to the open role. Using a talent optimization approach to define job requirements allows stakeholders to collectively pinpoint the behavioral drives and cognitive ability candidates need to succeed. When you take the extra time and effort to do this legwork up front, you end up hiring a candidate who has a better chance of being a great fit. And when someone is naturally wired to complete their job, that person feels more engaged and is more productive.

Key activities of this aptitude of the guide include the following steps:

  1. Solicit stakeholder input.
  2. Define the job.
  3. Create a compelling job advertisement.

1. Identify stakeholders who know about the job.

One of the most important investments an organization can make is to add top tier talent. Yet time and again, companies get this wrong. Hiring managers will put the wrong person in a role if the manager or the broader interview team don’t understand the job requirements.

To define the requirements of a position, it’s best to identify a variety of stakeholders. An obvious starting point is the hiring manager—the person who will ultimately be responsible for the new hire’s performance. For alignment, you can include other senior leaders and team members who will regularly interact with this person. Finally, you may want to add a person who is currently serving in the role. There are often differences in perspective between what a manager considers a role’s day-to-day work to be and the reality of that work from somebody doing the job.

2. Define the job.

When defining the job, you want all stakeholders to focus on objective job characteristics rather than vague concepts. Consider questions such as:

  • What are the most important and frequent activities?
  • What behavioral style and temperament is most naturally suited to do this type of work?
  • How quickly will the successful individual need to learn new information and skills?
  • How flexible and adaptable will the person need to be in this role?
  • What specific knowledge, skills, and abilities are needed?

Outline job tasks and activities as well as the behavioral styles, adaptability, and other important traits required for success in the role. You can use a standardized survey or job assessment to capture input on these key areas from each stakeholder.

When examining the results, it’s common to see differences of perspective among the stakeholders. In this situation, the responses should be reviewed as a group to gain consensus. The goal of this type of alignment meeting is to clarify points of view and determine the “must haves” of the position. Don’t leave the room until you’re all aligned. Hiring a candidate without having stakeholder agreement on job requirements is a recipe for disaster.

3. Create a compelling job advertisement.

Think of your job posting as your front door—and your first impression with candidates whether they are outside of your organization or internal candidates. Many job descriptions are cobbled together after conducting an online search of similar sounding jobs. This type of approach fails to communicate key job requirements to candidates.

During the process of defining the role, you outlined job tasks and activities as well as behavioral styles, adaptability, and other important traits required for success in the role. Make sure that these are reflected in the job posting. For example, if you’re hiring a new office manager who must be adept at interacting with clients, visitors, and employees, communicate the interactive nature of the position.

Prospective candidates will also evaluate the language you use as this gives them insights into your organizational culture. Be sure your words reflect your values accurately. For example, if you use words like “aggressive” or “driven” in your job posting, candidates might assume your culture is highly competitive. If it isn’t, be sure to soften your language.

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