Hiring is a challenge. Investing in people is the most important thing any company can do, and something that most companies screw up on a regular basis. While there is no shortage of advice on the subject, knowing what you are actually looking for should be your first step. An area that often gets overlooked is a current, accurate and useful job description when searching to fill positions.
“Hire slowly, fire quickly”
Statements like that, as annoying as they can be, offer some pretty good advice. Making a decision to hire is a complicated one. You have to consider the cost (err, investment) level, the needs of the business, the projections for continued need, the pros and cons of full time employment versus leveraging contract labor or staff, not to mention the talents of the potential hires.
You folks know I am not a fan of work for the sake of work or writing for the sake of writing. In the case of a job description, I am not advancing fancy templates and lengthy narrative. I am speaking of a clear conveyance of the job you need the person to do, the skills they need to have and what they can expect for the position, both now and down the road.
In my capacity for a client, one of my responsibilities is to build the team as necessary. We had a need for a Project Leader who would coordinate efforts of the development team and communicate with the customer around expectations, needs, timelines and translate (or assist) business requirements from the client. When I was briefed on skills necessary the details were vague. We were looking for a project leader with strong communications skills and a technical background.
I knew this was not enough. I knew it. And yet, even knowing this was a problem and feeling like I was starting a trip without a clear cut destination in mind, I moved forward.
See, I screw up all the time too!
I interviewed an excellent candidate (let’s call him Terry) who had an extensive background in information technology projects, strong communication skills along with a track record of correspondence to executive and client teams, not to mention he seemed like a sharp guy. We made the hire and he began working on the team.
There were problems immediately when I received feedback that Terry’s technical skills were not up to snuff.
To make a long story short, we ended up letting Terry go through no real fault of his own. While he wasn’t right for the job, the job description I operated with wasn’t right either. I could have saved a lot of people’s time and money had I been clearer on what the job truly called for.
Save yourselves the time, trouble and hassle by knowing what you really want – and need – from potential hires.
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