In part one, we explained what a Positional Profile was and focused heavily on one of it's main sections - Position Responsibilities. In this piece, we breakdown and look at the 3 remaining sections of this document: Skills, Organizational Placement, and the Big Why.

Properly Defining Skills

Like the responsibilities mentioned in part 1, skills are placed on job posts, which means there is some degree of thought, and that's great-ish. Unfortunately, like responsibilities, companies don't think about them deeply enough, which results in vague descriptions, like the ones below ...

Weak Skill Descriptions

  • Excel Experience 
  • Good Management Skills 
  • Effective Verbal and Written Communication 
  • Superior Customer Service Skills 

Descriptions like these cause nothing but headaches and bad hires. Take the first bullet, "Excel Experience." Doesn't get much more vague than that.

To correct this, you have to go a level deeper and ask - what will this hire be doing in excel that's pivotal to the position? Well since the original skill came from a sales position listing, I would change description to say - "Ability to use Excel's FORECAST function in order to predict future sales, and inventory requirements."

By making this more descriptive, you're going to attract candidates that have this specific skill set. More importantly, if someone without this skill applies, you can easily eliminate him/her because you can quickly test his/her ability to use the FORECAST function. This now makes the process incredibly efficient, and the hiring manager's life way more enjoyable.

A Level Deeper on Skills

The example just given was for a hard skill. A hard skill is characterized as a specific, teachable ability that can be defined and measured. In addition to hard skills, there's also soft skills. Now soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. These are mostly innate traits, which is why finding someone with the right soft skills, is more important than finding someone with the right hard skills.

Unfortunately, despite their differences, companies tend to make the same mistake when creating a list of soft skills (Too vague). Let's us bullet 2 as an example - "Good Management Skills." This could be interpreted by candidates in a million different ways. As a result, you're going to get a lot of people applying that do offer "Good Management Skills," just not necessarily the type you need.

And it's not just the candidates that can interpret this description in many different ways - it's the interviewer as well. So on top sifting through unwanted candidates, your own team isn't on the same page, and that's just a recipe for disaster.

To fix this, you have to be more specific. In the Positional Profile, I would right something like this, "The ability to train new staff in a sink or swim manner." This is very specific and will get your entire hiring team on the same page. Now when you list the job, I would simply put "The ability to train new staff." You do this because you don't want to tip your hand to candidates. They will prepare misleading answers in advance.

However, by being more specific, you will attract only people that believe they can "train new staff members," which significantly reduces the number of unwanted applications and pointless interviews. Now during the interview, because you didn't reveal your stance in the job post, you can ask specific behavioral questions that will reveal whether the candidate's training style is sink or swim.

Organizational Placement

The next piece of the Positional Profile, is a slight overview of the company's organizational chart. It's a great visual to see how this new hire will fit into the company, who he/she will be reporting to, and how many, if any, subordinates he/she will have. This little exercise answers a lot of questions and allows you to see how this position impacts the company. You'll know if this hire goes bad, it hurts this position, which touches on this person's tasks, etc. It really puts into perspective, how important it is to get a hire right.

If you decide to place this organizational chart into a job post (something I highly recommend), there will be another benefit - the elimination of unwanted interviews. More often than not, candidates have certain job criteria. Some want subordinates. Others want to report to just one manager. While some want to know that they'll be part of team which is full of employees that are equal in stature. All this can be answered with one glance of an organizational chart.

It's better that they see this information right away rather than after a phone interview and/or in-person interview. Hell some candidates won't notice until after he/she has taken the position, and that's time the staff could have spent doing something more productive (And time always equals money).

The Big Why

To be honest, this should be the first section you complete when building a Postional Profile. It's the most powerful question you can ask and it's, "why does this position matter to your company?" For most people, jobs are a lot more than a way to make money. At its pinnacle, jobs provide people with purpose and meaning. I think, as job creators, we must respect that. We must believe that this position has value beyond producing X amount of widgets.

Maybe it's to move your company's mission statement forward. Maybe it's to connect with your customers on a deeper level. Whatever it is, let your candidates know. Because when they feel like the work is giving them purpose, they'll produce twice the amount of widgets, fix a problem that wasn't part of their assignment, and make your company that much stronger.

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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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