One of the things that has frustrated me for many years is a poorly written job description. This was just one of many puzzle pieces that provided the impetus for me to take my experience as a professional recruiter and build a process dedicated to aligning talent strategy with corporate strategy for those companies who are committed to this.
For those of you who are responsible for writing job descriptions and/or approving them for your company (hiring managers, corporate recruiters, RPOs), what guidelines do you follow to produce exceptional and accurate job descriptions? Do you even follow any guidelines? Has anyone ever taught you how to write an effective and accurate job description? Have you thought about what’s necessary to attract the “right” candidate for you and used these things to recruit those top performers so they want to come to work for you? Do you just throw the job description onto your “careers” page, a job board, or social networking site, and hope (I always say “hope” is never an effective strategy) great candidates find you? But most importantly, is your job description a reflection of an aligned executive team, benchmarked employees, and well-thought-out recruiting practices that are directly in line with executive alignment and culture?
One of my LinkedIn connections passed on a job description through his network for one of his connections who’s looking for inside sales folks. The individual who wrote it is a VP of Sales & Marketing. I’m not sure if he’s responsible for all their recruiting or if this company also employs corporate recruiters and/or 3rd party agencies. Either way, this is a wonderful teaching example of what won’t work, unless you’re looking for low-quality employees. I’ve included the entire job description (click to enlarge) with the company’s name removed, for obvious reasons.
About ABC Company
ABC provides a cloud-based service for “visual engagement”. We let companies and their customers see what each other are talking about, through screen-sharing, co-browsing and agent video. Thousands of large and small companies are using our technology, including well-known names in finance, retail, travel and consumer technology.
Here at ABC everyone has the opportunity to take on wide responsibility, do varied and interesting work and make a big impact. There is plenty of opportunity to grow with the company.
We’re located in a renovated old mill building in Home Town right off the Historic bike trail (quite a few cyclists here), free parking too. Of course we have free snacks.
Customer Account / Support Manager
We are seeking an extremely energetic and motivated person who enjoys working in a fast paced environment and has a passion for customers and technology. The primary areas of focus for this role is selling ABC to small businesses and some individuals, providing technical support to customers, and owning the renewal business for designated accounts.
This person must be great at building consultative relationships with key customers within small-to-medium sized organizations. They also must be able to quickly develop a solid understanding of how the products operate in order to provide value to their accounts.
This person will be interfacing directly with our most important asset, our customers. In addition, this person must be able to work with the ABC engineering and operations teams to deliver a high quality service.
- Build and maintain strong relationships with assigned accounts
- Deliver pre-sales technical demonstrations of ABC solutions
- Create quotations and close small deals with prospects
- Enter opportunities into Salesforce.com
- Be diligent about customer renewals
- Assist ABC customers with varied skill levels (from digital natives to digital newbies) to successfully use ABC products effectively
- Trouble shoot with customers to independently solve their problems
- Use your resourcefulness to work with engineering to assist our customers with deeper technical issues
Ideal Candidate Qualifications
- Passionate about customer success
- Technical skills and ability are a must
- Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal (including good phone presence)
- You like to tinker and have an innate interest in technology
- Ability to learn new technologies while supporting existing products
- Ability to multi-task and prioritize
- Excellent organizational skills
- Team player and able to work independently
- You thrive in a versatile and dynamic team environment
- Always ready to help others and be helped
- Ability to facilitate and lead cross-functional teams
As you read this can you see some of the main the issues I’m seeing? It occurs to me that they are just casting a very wide net to see what they may catch. Let’s look at the most important items.
1. The company’s name is listed in the first sentence but there’s no indication of what this company does, a brief description of who they are, what makes them a company you would want to work for, etc. Is the writer of this job spec “assuming” the reader knows what they do? Do they think this is going to attract top talent? If they aren’t going to take the time to put together a well thought out description, how will they be to work for? This is the type of job description that will probably attract candidates who are just looking for a job because they need one. Maybe this job can tide them over until the economy improves…
2. What does this company sell? It says that they want someone with experience selling SAAS Model, specifically Sales 2.0 Tools. Is this the product?
3. They are looking for an inside rep. Where will this candidate be located? Will they be required to work at the corporate office or from home wherever they live? What’s the territory? Is it vertically focused?
4. Is there a quota? What’s the average deal size?
5. What about the comp plan? Why is it missing? Leaving the plan out may cause the reader to assume some things.
Candidates who aren’t looking for work will probably not even waste their time looking at this. If the plan range it’s not there the plan may be lousy.
Leaving a comp plan out of a description makes me wonder what they’re trying to hide.
6. Putting the comp plan in the description like this can also do a number of different things:
It may attract candidates that have never earned anywhere near the plan.
It may keep higher quality candidates from looking at this if they’re already making more money than the plan. They don’t know if the plan is negotiable based on experience, talent, quality, etc.
7. 5 years of inside sales required. Do you know anyone in inside sales that is just waiting to move to outside sales once they have enough experience? Granted not all inside reps want to move outside, but many do. You may capture candidates who are happy in the status quo.
8. What percentage of time is spent qualifying inbound leads vs. outbound target account penetration? It takes very different types of sales skills to farm (qualify inbound leads) and hunt (outbound penetration). It would be valuable to the candidate reading this to know where they need to be stronger.
9. Lastly, and most importantly, they say they want a “team player with an entrepreneurial spirit…” Does that sound like an oxymoron to anyone else? I’m not saying one can’t be a team player and be entrepreneurial. Culturally, candidates (and companies) will be more heavily weighted to one or the other. I suspect this company has never invested the time to look at their culture and even attempt to align it to be sure they are all on the same bus headed to the same destination.
That should be enough to get you thinking more broadly about what you should be doing internally to be able to generate a high quality job description. I’d love to hear any thoughts, comments, concerns, or questions about this topic.