March 13, 2013

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Needle in a Haystack

Formulate a New Job Position to Attract the Right Candidates

Heather Stewart

March 13, 2013

You need a new employee. Your team is stretched thin and it’s time to bring on someone to relieve the workload. But what, exactly, will the new employee do? How will he or she fit into your company and help it meet its objectives?

Before posting a hastily written job description, companies should ensure they have a clear plan for the new position.

Define the Position has been growing at a terrific rate over the past few years. The company has 1,200 employees globally and will likely add about 100 people this year. As director of global talent acquisition for, Suzy Jessen often works with hiring managers to develop new positions.

The first step, says Jessen, is to thoroughly define the position. “The manager has to be able to first define on-the-job success before any other step in the process can take place—they have to know what they are looking for.”

She likes to ask managers, “What’s the most important thing the person you’re hiring for this position needs to do in order for you to know you’ve hired a great person with the right skill-set?”

At Domo, a rapidly growing company that provides a cloud-based executive management platform, Vice President of Human Resources Cathy Donahoe takes a similar approach. She holds a kickoff meeting with the hiring manager when developing new positions, and she asks the manager to “list the top seven to 10 things this person is actually going to do.”

Give it a Title

The right job title is more important than you may think. “Choose a title that will resonate with the marketplace,” says Donahoe. If the candidates you are seeking will be looking for “administrative assistant” job postings, don’t call the position “secretary” or “office help.” “Create the right job title to attract the right people,” says Donahoe.

Write the Job Description

The job description typically spells out job duties and desired qualifications; it will also contain information about pay grade, compensation and other human resource details.

Jessen prefers to think about the job description as a “performance profile.” She says, “Traditional job descriptions that emphasize skills, experiences, background and academics are not job descriptions—they’re people descriptions.” Instead, a job description should set out in detail exactly what a person will be doing, rather than the skills they need to have.

A performance profile “lists the primary six to eight performance objectives the person is expected to achieve during the first year… It should emphasize what the person will do, what they will learn and what they will become,” says Jessen.

This kind of detailed profile clarifies expectations for both the company and the new employee, increasing  on-the-job performance and reducing turnover.

“‘Job shock is a common problem when a person discovers that the work required to be performed is not the work described or promised,” says Jessen. “It’s caused by not defining the performance expectations upfront.”

Create a Job Posting

Do not, says Donahoe, use the job description as the job posting. Why? “It’s probably not attractive enough,” she says.

Instead, think of the job posting as an advertisement. You want to draw in a certain kind of person—someone not only with the right knowledge and experience, but someone who will succeed and contribute in your company’s culture.

Donahoe suggests taking a peek at competitors’ job listings and gleaning ideas from résumés posted on job boards (this can help you create the job description as well).

Domo has gone to great lengths in its quest to recruit scarce tech workers; the company launched a media campaign, including billboards, to find employees. The campaign showcases the company’s quirky, humorous culture in order to attract workers who will fit in.

Finding a Match

The “Careers” page on a website is a perfect spot to showcase your corporate culture.

Beyond a list of current openings, this page can give job candidates a sense of who you are.

From The Summit Group’s website:

"What do we look for in potential team members? We’ve given it a lot of thought and have come to a few conclusions. We call the results our DNA because these aren’t attributes we aspire to—it’s just naturally who we are. Curious. Competitive. Fun. Client-obsessed. Accountable. Sound like you? Prove it."


"Here’s the deal: First and foremost, our company is about top notch online marketing and outstanding customer service. What most people don’t know about us is we are also committed to wearing jeans and hosting ping pong championships. If the combination of these two worlds seems like a good idea, you’re probably right!"

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