Why great role descriptions are vital to making the right hire (and how to produce one)

Why great role descriptions are vital to making the right hire (and how to produce one)

Recruiting will always be an imperfect science. That doesn’t mean companies can’t give themselves an edge by planning effectively.

Leaders of rapid-growth companies often dive headfirst into the hiring process without taking the time to plan. But, just “getting started” – putting an advert out and waiting for candidates to apply – is like sending a rocket into space without any coordinates: it will get you somewhere, but almost certainly not where you want to be. On the other hand, spending time in mission control to define your match, then articulating an accurate and compelling role description, will set you on your preferred trajectory.

Why the role description is important

Hiring is a dual economy: both individuals and companies are looking for their perfect match. In the job marketplace, therefore, companies need to persuasively pitch both themselves and the role they’re offering, in a format which is compelling to the target audience.

Forming the role description: pitching the company

No matter your company size or sales skills, when it comes to hiring, you’re pitching your company to one specific buyer: your ideal candidate. As such, you need to think like that candidate and show off what makes your company special, what drives your company culture and why your aims and aspirations are important.

In other words, you need to define your Big North Star. This is the singular purpose that drives you and your team; that encapsulates your company identity; that shows what you do, why it’s important and why should they be excited about working with you. All in a language which is motivating to them.

Forming the role description: pitching the opportunity

Put yourself in your ideal candidate’s shoes: what would you be looking for? You’d want to know what the impact of your contribution could be, what you would learn and where the role would take you. You’d want to know what success looks like, how it would be measured and what would be expected of you. You’d want to know why this opportunity was your opportunity. So, tell them.

All great role descriptions should define: what the company does and why this is important, why the role is an amazing opportunity, what the candidate will do in the role, what they need to be great at and what they will be judged on.

Not only will this impress and attract the right candidates, but it will also prepare you for the interview stage (which, don’t forget, works both ways too). Having considered, at this planning stage, what your best candidates are looking for, you’ll be able to respond convincingly to questions, such as ‘what will success look like’ or ‘what will I become as a result of doing this role’.

How to pull the role description together

Take your time. The role description is a defining document with lasting consequences for your journey. To avoid problems further down the line, cover all angles and achieve alignment, give responsibility to the hiring leader to write it and allow time for everyone in the hiring team to actively engage in editing and approving it. Oh, and don’t copy paste.

If you don’t know, ask. If you are hiring a role for the first time, ask people who know this function or role for their opinion. From asking fellow team members to contacting a more senior version of the profile you’re trying to hire (don’t headhunt them, but be honest about what you are doing), get input from others inside and outside your company.

More is definitely more. Candidates can never receive too much insight about an opportunity. An advert can be short and punchy; a role description should be rich in information.

Authentically yours. Let the role description express your style. Whether it be using particular media, cultural syntax or even your customised font, let your company’s personality shine through.

The Talent Stack can help you build your perfect role description, but there’s still a missing piece to the hiring plan. Without considering what data you need to gather internally, in order to decide your hire, your hiring rocket will not reach its destination. Luckily, the Talent Stack has devised a tool for that too and it’s all part of our hiring process management system.