There are two cliches that often get tossed around in business (hell, you'll probably read them on Fulfillingly more than once), and they are "Time is money" and "You have to spend money to make money." Unfortunately, and far too often, company's only pay attention to the first maxim and that can cause issues, especially in hiring.

They rationalize that the longer a position is open, the more money the company will lose. As a result, they hire quickly and that's never a good idea. This increases the chances of a bad hire, and that can easily cost the company 10X what the role is worth.

Now what these companies should be doing is combining the two adages. Yes, time is money, but you have to spend some of it, if you want a successful hire. And what they should be spending their time on, are these Positional Profiles.

What is a Positional Profile?

Essentially, a Positional Profiles is a document made up of 4 sections: Responsibilities, Skills, Organizational Placement, and the Big Why. When done correctly, you'll have the ability to advertise the new opportunity effectively, and vet any candidate that applies thoroughly - giving you the best chance to hire a remarkable talent. But you have to do them correctly.

The reality is, many companies already take down the responsibilities and skills needed to thrive in a role. Unfortunately, they write vaguely worded descriptions that actually make the hiring process (and beyond) extremely difficult. To highlight this point, I want you to look at this list below.

Weak Responsibility Descriptions

  • Making sale calls to potential clients 
  • Support of an ever expanding customer base 
  • Manages the financial performance of the business 
  • Develop and maintain a successful outreach plan with neighborhood businesses 
  • Consistently exceed client’s expectations 

All of these were taken from different job postings on Indeed, and none of them work - especially when you're striving to attract top talent. The reason these descriptions don't work is that they contain 3 elements that will be deadly to your hiring decision: The description is either focused on the wrong target, too broad, and/or doesn't contain any quantifiable criteria. So how do we fix this?

Properly Defining Responsibilities

The first step in properly defining the responsibilities is to recognize them as a goal rather than a task. What I'm saying here is, you want to concentrate on what this position will achieve, rather than focusing on how the hire will achieve it. There's always more than one way to solve a problem, and you don't want to miss out on talent because they solve it differently.

Once you've developed this mindset, you can move on to the next step - communicating these goals so that both you and the candidate understand what it means to pass or fail in this position. The most effective way to do this is by using the S.M.A.R.T goal system.

S.M.A.R.T Goal stands for ...

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time Bound

If we look at bullet number 1 in our list of weak responsibilities descriptions,"making sales calls to potential clients," you'll see that while it is specific and achievable, you don't have all the needed information (How many calls must be made? What's the deadline for all the calls?). A more effective responsibility, using the S.M.A.R.T goal system, would look more like this - "Make 40 sale calls to potential clients each week." But is this actually correct? After turning the responsibility into a S.M.A.R.T goal, you have to ask yourself 2 questions...

I'd answer no to both. This particular responsibility came from a sale's position listing, and to me, this really feels like a sales task rather than a goal. To correct this, I would shift the focus from making calls to capturing sales, and have the new responsibility read - "Convert 4 new leads into customers by the end of quarter 1."

By making calculated adjustments like this, you're going to put those involved with the hiring process, in a great position. You see, when the time comes to promote the opportunity, they'll be highlighting a specific set of goals that will only be attractive to candidates who believe they can reach these valuable milestones. In this situation, you'll be appealing to individuals who are confident they could capture sales.

Formerly, when the responsibility was listed as making phone calls, you'd be attracting a wider range of candidates. Some great at sales and others great at talking on the phone (customer service types). There's no added benefits, only added resumes, and hiring the right person is already a difficult job. Wading through more candidates, many of whom aren't even qualified, only makes the task that much harder.

Bonus - Work Backwards

It's important to note that when you're defining responsibilities, you want to start as far into the future as realistically possible, and work your way towards the present. A good starting point is at the end of year 1, but you can go further.

Begin by thinking of the big goals you'd like this new hire achieve 365 days after they've started. Then ask yourself, what did they accomplish in the first 6 months to put them on pace to reach that goal? What had to happen within 3 months, the first month, a week into it, etc? Taking this approach really helps you prioritize the important responsibilities, find work-related stress points, and understand what skills are truly needed by the hire.

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Article By: Tom Kieley

About the Author

Tom is the creator of Fulfillingly. He absolutely enjoys giving people the tips and tools they need to find a satisfying career or dependable employee. Tom does
this by combining years of experience with incredible outside sources.

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