It’s the job description, stupid.

I know you’ve heard it before.

I’m certain that HR has pretty much blasted you with the idea that a good job description is the foundation for effective hiring and performance management practices.   And I’m even more certain that you probably come up with the same excuses, with the same tired roll of the eyes.

“I don’t have time to write a job description.”  Or, “I don’t even know where to begin.”

Well, it’s time to stop making excuses and simply get it done.   A bad job description, or worse, lack thereof is costing you time and money.

Forget the myriad of legal reasons why a job description (JD) is important (i.e. to reduce the risk of unfair hiring practices, to comply with the American with Disabilities Act, to ensure appropriate FLSA status—just to name a few).  A good JD is needed to hire the right kinds of people.  Why?  Because an accurate job description is the link between potential employees and your company.  Quite simply, the JD provides candidates with a snapshot of who you are, what you do, and what’s expected of them.

Think of the JD as the blueprint for success. Companies that have accurate job descriptions are more likely to hire employees who perform better and stay longer.  Retention, after all, is a money saver and revenue driver.

See the link?

Now, everyone knows that a standard JD must include the requisite title, reporting structure, essential duties, and qualifications of the job.  Yet, to really make your JD stand out, you need to give potential employees a glance at what the work environment is like.

(Oh, yeah…you have to update them regularly too.  You can’t just write the JD once and forget about it).

So, you might wonder how to provide a candidate a glimpse of your culture?  Let’s take a look:

  • Reflect the spirit of the company:  Don’t be too descriptive and don’t be too vague.  Use clear, everyday language that is concise and specific.
  • Be transparent:  Vague wording makes it hard for candidates to picture themselves in the role and to figure out if they would actually enjoy working there. Stay away from the standard, “must be able to multi-task,” and try instead, “must thrive in an environment where no two-days are alike and the ability to juggle multiple tasks is appreciated.”
  • Be direct in defining duties:  Avoid soft descriptors such as “often” or “sometimes” and organize job duties according to hours or percentage of time spent on each.
  • Capture your company’s vibe:  Use nomenclature that coincides with your culture.  A job description for a tech start-up should read differently than a job description for a large investment bank.  So, use a writing style that reflects the sentiment and feelings of your work environment.  If that means injecting colorful language into your JD, then go for it.   Remember, you want to attract candidates who are right for you.
  • Use bullet points:  Bullet points make it easier on the eyes to skim content.  See how easy it was read these tips?

Have you seen any job descriptions recently that have caught your eye?   If so, let us know what makes them so appealing. 

Anatomy of an Executive Search – The Rainmaker

Our business is growing and I am amped about it. We have new products and tools coming out that are going to blow the lid off of strategic talent acquisition, and it’s been a long time coming. We just hit year six. We are profitable, stable, and the brand is growing. I have the team partnered up with PR resources, marketing resources, and we are getting ready for a nice direct push. Our advisors are ready for the incoming work that has us booked up though the fall, and I have several people on backup as we need it.

But direct marketing and sales is not the only way we are growing this business. We have learned that our services and technology is a strategic advantage for HR service providers that sell to the same market that we do. They obviously don’t sell strategic consulting – they position payroll services, outplacement, recruiting, legal services, technology and so on. None of them are competitors, because we just don’t have that many.

But they have plenty.

Its no secret that we offer exclusivity. Its a principal we had since I founded the business. I didn’t realize how powerful that was until HR service providers had tools that their competitors did not have – our tools. And now we have an opportunity to leverage that. We are hunting for providers of technology and services typically purchased by HR organizations to buy our services and Pando technologies, and make it part of their own service offering. In return – we don’t offer it to their competitors. Ah ha – a sales differential. Ah ha – a retention tool. Nice.

But these deals are huge, multi-faceted, multiple years, and full of intellectual property pitfalls. It’s not a $X0,000 annual license for a technology that needs to be renewed each year. I need a rainmaker. Someone who can chase down the safari sized deals, and make it work. I know that I am instrumental to the deal, but I have a business to lead too. I have to find a rainmaker that can get these deals started. It won’t take many to grow the business, but I have feeling we are going to plenty of companies say “we can sell it, but we won’t buy it.” I am not looking for channel sales 😉

It’s not going to be easy, but I know it’s straightforward. This is not my first rodeo in finding executives – and that is what this job is. An executive who has savvy, expertise, can close and has been there and done what others think they do. I want Alec Baldwin in Glengary Glenross. Coffee is for closers only.

So as I was preparing for this, I thought “why not blog about this and tell people how I am doing it?” I tell people in a closed door session what I would do, and it’s not a secret, so why not expose it this way…so here is blog #1

Who did you buy from?
First item on the agenda? Make a killer list of my contacts who probably deal with these folks. I have had a few interactions with folks directly, and of course they are on the list. I have good network of procurement officers at corporations, legal folks who navigate deals, and of course CHROs and heads of staffing. Turned that list over to my research team, and appointments are being set up. My approach is tell the story – here is how my business is going to grow, who can help me do that, and don’t point me in the direction of some wanna-be. Who did you sign a multi-year, $X00,000 to $X,000,000 technology and services deal with that you were impressed with?

Right? Did you really think I was gonna send a bunch of LinkedIn Inmails? Not for this gig. I want to hear “they were awesome – they will love this Andrew”. I had a call the other day – and got two leads that do exactly that, and I have a handful of more calls setup.

What do they need to have to make them effective?
But here is the other part of the conversation – I am asking these buyers what the rainmaker needs for them to be able to buy from them. I have worked up an assessment and list of competencies and experiences (featured in the blog after the next one) but I don’t know everything. I have recruited people like this before, but I never HIRED anyone like this before. So I am finding out what I need to add to my assessment.

What’s next? A “description” of the role that someone will actually read and respond too. But it’s not really for them…it’s for me.If I have to lead them, I need a plan and follow it. It’s starts with that initial role design.

Work out and make more money? No, it’s not a scam.

Last week, Men’s Health posted a report that claims people who work out make up to 10% more than inactive workers. At first glance, I figured this had something to do with the obsession of physical appearance and the idea that the better you look, the further you’ll go (obviously, this is not personal opinion). Then I read the article and was pleasantly interested to find that it does not have to do with appearance, but energy and attitude, attributes often dependent on physical health. It is no secret that the healthier you are, the better you will feel and the more efficient you can be at your job. Hitting the gym releases endorphins which induce a natural high in the body; hence, someone who is physically active will not only have more energy but they will also have a better attitude that can positively affect other people’s attitudes around them. It makes sense.

The study also shows that exercise increases your intelligence level – this is news to me but nonetheless, very cool.  According to Vasilis Kosteas, Ph.D, a professor at Cleveland State University, the increase of intelligence, energy and attitude makes for higher productivity and therefore, a potential higher salary (note potential). But you don’t have to be an avid gym goer to achieve this: The study also finds that even those who only exercise a couple days per MONTH can earn on average up to 5% more than their inactive peers. The same positive effects were found in both aerobics and weight training, so the benefits do not discriminate by your fitness of choice.

I love the findings of this study. It gives us another great motivation to staying fit. Along with the obvious benefits of good health and a longer life, that extra 5-10% in your pocket at the end of the year doesn’t hurt, either. If you are already active, keep it up. If not, you may have more to lose than you thought. We are all cutting back to save money, but the ROI from the money you spend on the gym may just be worth it, both physically and fiscally.

No Income Tax for the Unemployed. That is stimulus.

Another month has gone by with dismal job numbers. As you know I am advocating a 300,000+ jobs addition per month to get us back on track. Once again we have fallen tremendously short of where we need to be. The politicians continue to do their politicking, and not provide any stimulus or solutions to how unemployed people will get employed.

So yet again – here is another idea – People who are currently unemployed get a tax vacation on their income tax for the next two years.

This would allow employers to pay people anywhere between 18 to 38% less then the market would bear. This is a significant incentive for employers to employ somebody who is currently unemployed. They can offer salaries and bonuses and commissions that are comparable, but clearly less. This would allow employers to be more aggressive with their headcount growth and would significantly increase the number of people who would be hired who are unemployed. There is a tremendous bias in small business and corporate America regarding the hiring of long-term unemployed personnel.

If you think about it, those unemployed personnel are not paying any income tax anyway. They do not receive an income. In fact some of them receive benefits because they are not employed, which ends up costing the government even more money. If we have those people go back into the labor market, we eliminate their government subsidy, we encourage their ability to purchase goods and services at the consumer level (thereby increasing consumer confidence), and the government actually saves money.

Now I know that the government will not receive any income tax associated with that personnel, but they’re not receiving any of that money now anyway. So you might as well just call it a day and get those people back to work so they can at least boost consumer confidence and get off the government ticket.

So let’s advance 24 months. The people who have been recently employed obviously now are somewhat underpaid. They now have to pay taxes, and it’s likely that they only got merit increases of 5% to 7% each year over the last two years. They now have to pay income tax that exceeds their recent increases. This is an excellent opportunity for that employee and that employer to go back to the normal pay structure. Enough time has elapsed to offset the difference and to have that employee prove their performance.

A move like this by our administration will stimulate job growth. It is a significant difference in costs for an employer, and greatly offsets any kind of increase that would be associated with other increasing expenses like healthcare.

You could also extend similar benefits to unemployed veterans, and even extend their income tax holiday even further.

Is this a viable option? I think it is. With this pass in our Congress? Maybe. It is fraught with revenue peril. The actual concept of offering a tax holiday on people’s income would likely scare any budget committee. It completely flies in the face of any kind of large government policy agenda. Large government policy agendas typically require significant capital. The sheer volume of personnel that would be hired is likely in the millions over the next 6 to 18 months. That is a lot of revenue that the government would have to give up. That is difficult to do given our deficit, our spending, and trade agreements.

However, this could easily be considered a socialist agenda. There are lots of people who are under employed (meaning they are paid less than they are worth) and this keeps those personnel in the jobs that they have, and makes it more difficult for people who want to leave their jobs and advance into other jobs as there is the ability to undercut them in the marketplace.

I can tell you that that is a initial and logical reaction. But in the staffing world, we make judgments like this all the time. Positions are escalated based on who applies. So what would happen is that recruiters would look at people who are unemployed first, and if they cannot find anybody who’s unemployed to fill the position, they simply would then go ahead and start looking at employed personnel. It is almost the exact same process that is used when considering if you should offer a position to somebody who is local versus offering it to someone who you have to relocate. When you can’t find somebody local you simply go outside your local region.

I am sure there are some holes in my theory. I am not an economist, and I don’t know what would be the repercussions of adding a labor force that is willing to take 15 to 38% less than their normal wage for a period time would be. But then again, I’m just trying to get people who are earning any income back to work.