Recruiting First Rate Employees Starts With First Rate Job Descriptions

By JDXpert - April 03, 2016

Hiring a new employee is certainly not an easy task and can prove costly for companies who choose the wrong candidate.  According to Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM),a poor hiring decision could cost up to five times a bad hire’s annual salary and the higher the person’s position and the longer they remain in that position, the more it will cost to replace him or her.  And a recent survey by Career Builder found that 41% of companies surveyed estimated that a bad hire costs more than $25,000, and 25% said it costs more than $50,000.  

Hard Costs vs. Soft Costs
So why are these numbers so high?  Hard costs such as the cost of recruitment advertising, interview expenses, employment testing, training, orientation, and termination costs such as unemployment and COBRA make up much of the costs associated with bad hiring decisions but also less obvious soft costs like time, decreased office morale, and opportunity costs such as possible loss of customers and/or sales can be just as costly.

Why Do Companies Hire The Wrong Person?
No hiring manager or recruiter wants to hire the wrong person, but with deadlines from superiors and frustrated employees doing double duty, it happens.  Oftentimes the desire to fill a position quickly masks the need to find an individual who will fit into the corporate culture and develop into a long-term employee.  It’s important to choose a candidate who believes in the organization's mission and shares a common goal, not just someone with the best resume.  

Another common error is that many professionals confuse the job description with the job criteria.  A good job description can provide applicants with an accurate reflection of the work they are expected to perform and recruiters and interviewers with a guide to how each candidate should be evaluated.  Job criteria are simply the duties the employee needs to perform while the job description includes what is needed to succeed in the position.  

Traditionally, job descriptions used skills, duties, and responsibilities to define the job; however, today things are changing and companies are placing more emphasis on the worker, not just the work.  It is more important than ever to have a flexible and multi-skilled workforce.  No longer can employers depend solely on an employee’s skill level, but must also consider what characteristics and strengths they possess that can bring more value to the company.  Hence, the emergence of the competency-based job description.  

A competency-based job description not only outlines the skills required to perform the tasks of the position but also includes the knowledge and behavior needed to succeed in the position.  For example, a person can become a good presenter (skill) through practice, learning from others, and education but in order to be a strong communicator (competency) one must rely on a combination of skills PLUS behavior and knowledge.  A person can learn how to be a good presenter but only a strong communicator has advanced language skills, the knowledge of diverse cultures, and behaves patiently when communicating.

Tips on Improving Your Job Descriptions

  • Focus on the worker not just the work
  • Write your job description in accordance with your corporate culture and goals
  • Understand what competencies a candidate should possess for not only that job but also any promotion opportunities
  • Involve those currently in the position as well as other stakeholders while writing the job description
  • Keep your job descriptions up to date by taking a fresh look at your needs and the people you’d like to add to your team
  • Consider replacing your Word-based job description with an automated system for easy updating and collaboration
  • Develop a master template so your recruiting strategy remains consistent
A job description can be one of your strongest recruiting assets.  It outlines the position, not only the duties and responsibilities of the job, but also what behaviors, values, and goals you expect your employees to uphold.  A well-defined job description can help you attract the right talent and avoid costly hiring mistakes.  If you’ve been hiring the wrong candidates, then maybe it’s time to redefine your job description strategy.


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