Accurate job descriptions are critical for attracting the right applicants to your job postings. But it’s about more than just sharing the technical skills you’re looking for; you also need the description to clearly convey your organization’s culture.
To find out how to best incorporate your company culture into job descriptions, we reached out to Helene Wall, an associate director and HR consultant with Postlethwaite & Netterville, an accounting firm in Baton Rouge, La.
Here’s what she had to say.
Get Help Writing the Description
This doesn’t have to be a one-person job. In fact, Wall recommends getting three distinct perspectives:
- HR, which can ensure compliance and maintain a strategic view of the job in relation to other positions.
- The position’s supervisor, who can make certain that the description includes all of the essential duties necessary to support the business unit.
- An individual currently in the job, who can “provide that critical ‘reality check’ that discloses all the other details that only the person doing the job every day would be aware of,” Wall says.
Consider the What, Why, Who and How
Once you know who will help write the description, think about what needs to be included — and integrate culture into every section. Your aim is to have great employees, not merely good-enough employees, and getting the job description right is the first step to achieving that, Wall says.
Set the tone with what is expected of an employee daily, then fine-tune to describe what greatness would look like in this position. This “is conveyed by including not only what is necessary in the job, but why it is necessary, who is involved in development and growth, and how the successful performance supports the culture and contributes to the overall success of the organization,” Wall says. (Note: A well-crafted job description will also help you make the most of your job posting on Louisiana Job Connection, which pulls keywords and analyzes titles and descriptions to determine the skills necessary for the job.).
“A well-crafted job description doesn’t treat culture as an intangible afterthought. It is woven into the tone, feel and worth of each job description.”
How can you be truthful about a stressful or otherwise unpleasant workplace without scaring off good candidates? Wall recommends addressing it head-on. “There are ways to be honest about the situation without bashing the organization,” she says.
By being honest about your company’s less-than-perfect attributes, you “can begin to identify those candidates who not only possess basic skills needed to do the job but who also possess the competencies necessary to help realign the culture of the organization,” Wall says. In other words, if you position the problems with your culture as challenges to be solved, “you encourage creativity and innovation and turn the negative environment into a great motivator for people who like to solve problems.”
Stay Out of the Weeds
Don’t go overboard, says Wall. “Too much detail can reduce a job description into a step-by-step procedures guide.” She also suggests avoiding specifics that are subject to change or that are outside of the control of the supervisor or department head.
Just focus on “the high points, establish the expectations and provide the milestones and deadlines critical to each duty,” she says.
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