Write Better Job Descriptions And Build A Stronger Team

Is your job description helping you attract the right people? Or is it too vanilla to get you what you need?

The passionate and opinionated authors of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, Al Ries and Laura Ries, say:

“In business there is never only one way to do anything.”

It’s true we have choices:

  • To market primarily online or off-line.
  • To focus our brand or try to be all things to all people (the second choice is dangerous).
  • To make our websites the center of our digital brand or to give that prized position to our Facebook page.
  • To build a team or try to do it all ourselves.
  • To attract the right kind of people to help us manage our company or just take what we can get.

The power to decide is freedom and the wisest decisions can propel you forward. This is never more true than the process you use in attracting and hiring new team members inside your small business.

I recently spoke with Scott Kriscovich, President of TrueBridge Resources — a national talent acquisition firm, and he offers some insights about the job descriptions that you use.

Believing that the traditional one is outdated, Scott suggests that small business owners take a few steps to get the most out of this document:

Culture Match Over Skills

Not that you want an incompetent person on your team. But instead of focusing so heavily on every little skill set that you think you need — the ones that are often described in typical job descriptions — look for someone who can do the job, but also fit the culture.  According to Scott:

“You can train for skills.”

Within reason, of course. But a vinegar personality to your oily environment may never gel quite right.

Minimum Criteria, Not Perfection

Scott says:

“Tunnel vision leads to group think that ultimately paralyzes organizations.”

To get your thinking out of the tunnel stop imagining a “perfect” candidate. This thought process backs you into a corner and limits your ability to see the potential in front of you.

With minimum criteria in place, you’ll be able to weed out the ones who just don’t fit at all. Now you can start talking to the rest to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Every viable candidate is strong in one area and weaker in another.

You want to discover what you’re willing to work with and the first step is to create a job description that helps candidates filter themselves.

Determine What You Really Need

Instead of using generic terms like “well-rounded,” Scott helps businesses find talent for their companies by putting more specific phrases in their job descriptions. He suggests that you:

“Pick 1-2 traits that are critical in the position they will hold.”

Every company thinks they’re looking for a well-rounded individual, but what’s more relevant are the “words that would help describe your culture,” says Scott. Instead of well-rounded you’re probably looking for:

  1. A team player
  2. An open and creative individual
  3. A collaborative, self-starter
  4. A compassionate but candid team member
  5. An ethical person

Your list ultimately depends on your culture. Which means you can’t write an effective job description if you don’t have a clear understanding of the culture within your company.

Determine What You Don’t Need

Consider this. Scott believes that:

“Your stellar employees are the ones who really excel in a couple areas. They aren’t likely good at everything, but they have a couple of exceptional skills and you love them for it.”

Pay attention to the team that you already have. Write down the traits that make them important to you business.

Walking through this process will make it easier for you to identify the traits that you truly need in your next team member. Scott adds:

“When you do bring candidates in, conduct focused interviews talking through those 1-2 traits versus the 1,000-foot view.”

In other words, don’t spend time discussing everything. Focus on the main things that you need on your team. Remember, you’ve used these key phrases in your job description. And you can use the interview to dig deeper.

Recognizing that the owners of smaller companies wear a lot of hats Scott highlights the fact:

“. . .they tend to be a little more flexible in what they’re looking for, but have a harder time knowing exactly what that is.”

Which hat do you stop wearing first?

Your new hire probably can’t juggle like you do. And is that what you really want? Maybe it’s time for a focused Administrative Assistant who keeps your office running smooth while you generate new business.  Scott says:

“In a smaller organization, every hire that you make is more important to the company.”

Their personality won’t get absorbed into a big machine. It will, however, represent you loud and clear. Their personality will make an impression on your small business brand.

So make sure you use your job description to promote the “values and guiding principles for your organization.”

Writer Photo via Shutterstock


Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

6 Reactions
  1. Jamillah–
    I heard something one that went something like this: “hire for passion, not experience.” Experience and skills can be learned, while passion should be innate when hiring people who will care about your company the way you do.

    Great post!

  2. Great piece. I agree, it’s all in the way you write and what you say that will attract the right person for the job. Thanks for sharing.


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