Making a Quality Hire Starts With the Job Description

A quality hire begins with the job description

How well does that description perform?

When it comes to sourcing and making a quality hire in a rapidly evolving market, performance is everything.

In a LinkedIn report covering Global Recruiting Trends for 2016, 39% of talent leaders surveyed agree that the quality of hire is the most valuable metric for performance and a majority are measuring it through new hire performance evaluations and turnover/retention statistics.

A Quality Hire Starts with the Job Description

Long before the performance evaluations and the review of turnover and retention statistics, there is the hiring process and probably the single most important part of it – the writing of the job description. As all recruiting professionals know, having a well-written description can move passive candidates into action, gain the interest of top performing job-seekers, all while filtering out potential mismatches.

The description of the job also has direct ties to performance evaluations and retention of the employee. So why do so many job advertisements lack the information that makes it clear to the talent what performances goals they’ll be measured by? And why do they not drive the odds in the company’s favor that a potential top-performer will want to continue to be a part of the team?


Many hiring managers struggle to clarify what they expect to a potential employee to deliver beyond just the experience and skills required. Lack of clarification can lead to less than stellar performance reviews when the expectations of the hiring manager aren’t being met and an otherwise great employee losing interest and looking elsewhere. This especially holds true for newly formed roles within the company, or roles that the hiring manager has no prior background experience in themselves, let alone hiring for.

What to Include in Your Description

Put yourself in the shoes of the person who’s reading your job description. What would you want to know? Good. Now put back on your hiring manager cap and think about what that person will have to deliver to nail their performance review. Got that? Finally, put on the hat of the company’s CEO. What do you want that employee to embody when it comes to the company?

Here’s what you should have:

+          Clear expectations on the job to be done upfront, based on performance

Be specific. What will be expected of them in 3, 6 and 12 months? What will they spend most of their time doing and what do the best performers do compared to average ones? If a person has to use a certain ability or skill on the job, how will they know when they are successful? Include the typical challenges a person doing the job will likely face. Providing this information helps to set clear expectations and open the door for more in-depth discussion so that both parties know to expect and what still may need to be outlined.

Just because a candidate may possess certain skills, competencies, or behavioral attributes, doesn’t mean they will be a strong performer.

+          Leadership style of their direct manager

Are they hands-off until things go awry? Are they a coach who provides regular feedback, guidance, support, and are willing to show others the ropes in unfamiliar territories? Maybe they are more of a controller-supervisor, who needs things to be done a certain way using repeatable processes with metrics and constant follow-up? Whatever their style, there’s a way to diplomatically indicate this in the description.

Work style mismatches are a leading cause of great talent going elsewhere. Nobody wants to work for a boss who goes against their style of working, nor does a boss wish to spend their workday dealing with an employee who isn’t on the same page as they are. Being transparent early on will help to avoid candidate submissions who won’t gel long-term with their boss.

+          Their team

Everyone likes to know the lay of the land in a job. If they’re expected to be a solo-act with minimal support or supervision, state it. If they’ll be part of a large team, indicate that and list the roles of some their crew. Whether it’s a 6-person agile development team, or a 20-person department that they’ll be groomed to manage one day, spell it out.

+          Make the culture clear

Many people seriously consider a job opening based on what they learn about the company culture alone. Savvy top-performing players know how to sniff out bad vibes and they aren’t relying on Glassdoor alone. DO NOT embellish! You can talk about the perks, the typical attire, the floor plan, and whatnot, but PEOPLE clearly drive the culture. If a friend asked you to explain the culture of your company, how would you? Is it free of jargon and fluffy half-truths? Good, put that into your description. Word gets around if the things written in the employee handbook and on the website isn’t as it seems and it can cost you current and future hires.

What About the Benefits?

Most job listings typically include some information on the standard benefits and compensation, but many of these things are up for negotiation. If you have a set salary range in mind and a set-in-stone benefits structure that isn’t open for discussion, then by all means, put that in there and indicate this. More employers are writing descriptions that cover what all is available to a new hire and leave it up to negotiations to sort out the details so both parties are satisfied.