An engaging, accurate and transparent performance job description can make the difference between hiring success and failure. Yet, this crucial hiring touchpoint is frequently overlooked by hiring managers in their haste to get the hiring process rolling. Done right, a performance job description can:
- Attract high calibre candidates with the right skills, experience and competencies.
- Set clear expectations of what success looks like for candidate and coworkers.
- Ensure your organisation complies with relevant employment law and regulation.
Putting time aside to craft and hone a performance job description is time well spent. Not only is it the document referenced when screening, shortlisting and interviewing candidates, but the thought process and due diligence that goes into its creation will assist you with onboarding your new hires and assessing their performance later down the line. In short, it defines what success looks like for all parties in the hiring process.
However, the advantages don’t stop there. Performance Job descriptions provide context for hiring stakeholders, clarifying the reasons for the hire; it’s anticipated benefits and fit within the organisation. They also help your craft engaging job adverts to entice high-impact life science talent.
Finally, if you are partnering with an external recruiter or executive search firm, performance job descriptions help inform the consultant and assist them in selling the role to prospective candidates. Developing and refining this process now will improve your hiring outcomes across the board.
The importance of goals in a performance job description
Goals are motivators. Utilising goals in your performance job description will assists you in attracting and engaging A-players from the outset.
A-players are doers. When browsing job descriptions, they want to see how they can make an impact. They don’t want to waste their time in a role which won’t fulfil or challenge them. Measurable, well-defined goals give these go-getters the detail they need to access the role on its true merits.
According to behavioural physiologist David McClelland, the pioneer of workplace motivational thinking, individuals are motivated by three needs: affiliation, achievement and power. By and large, top performers tend to be driven by achievement, which is why they respond so well to goals and objectives. A-players tend to have the following attributes in common:
- Ability and desire to take charge: Top performers seek the ability to take the reins and assist coworkers with their goals.
- Well developed focus and discipline: A-players possess long term focus, perseverance and self-discipline to see tasks through.
- Strong sense of self-responsibility: High calibre candidates believe that they, and they alone, are responsible for their destiny.
- Development of expertise: Top performers thrive on continuous improvement and seek to be seen as the go-to person for advice.
- Positive mindset: A-players have the ability to see challenging projects or situations as opportunities rather than problems or threats.
Consequently, a-players are extremely goal-orientated, setting their trajectory for the things they seek to accomplish in their career and personal lives. A performance job description utilising goals will convince them that you offer an environment where they can excel in what they do while ensuring they understand exactly what they need to deliver and how they will be measured.
Better still, they help communicate the mission and vision of the organisation from the first touchpoint in the candidate journey. Reinforcing this messaging throughout the hiring process – job ads, emails, conversations etc. – increases the chance of buy-in, which typically translates into performance gains. When an individual believes in a cause, they work more tenaciously to deliver.
Defining mission and goals
Writing a performance job specification can be challenging, especially if you aren’t sure what to include. Before putting pen to paper, be sure to define these three crucial criteria:
Defining the mission ensures all parties – candidates, hiring teams, coworkers – understand the essence of the role and the reason for its existence.
Clearly identify the desired outcomes of the role. Set specific expectations of what duties are required and communicate how success will be measured.
How mission-critical is this role in achieving your business objectives? Defining this will help you prioritise the hire in your recruitment process.
If defining your mission, goals and urgency throw up red flags, act on these before proceeding to write the performance job description for the role.
Narrowing down on job particulars
Now that you’ve defined the mission, goals and urgency, it’s time to focus on the specifics of the role. Before proceeding, ask yourself these three questions:
1) What functional expertise does the job require?
This is vital to determine whether your hire needs knowledge and experience in a particular skill set, for example, Operational Excellence, or a related qualification.
2) What requirements and qualifications are required?
You will screen candidates CV’s and LinkedIn Profiles against these qualification criteria, ensuring that only A-players are shortlisted and invited to interview.
3) Why should A-players consider your organisation over a competitor?
It’s essential to do some detective work to ascertain what your existing employees value in working for you, and why employees leave. To find out, create an employee engagement survey and sent it to all your employees. At the same time, dig through exit interviews debriefs to see why high performers left your organisation. You’ll be amazed at the insights gained. Even seemingly insignificant perks can make the difference between a satisfied and disgruntled employee.
Now you know what motivates your employees, review competitor career pages and job adverts to get a feel for how they position their company and the skills, experience and competencies they seek in leadership-level roles. We advise you repeat this excercise once you’ve drafted your job description to see how it compares.
Writing a performance job description
Research behind you, it’s time to write an engaging, accurate and transparent performance job description. You might be tempted to delegate this to a member of HR, but as the hiring manager and key stakeholder in the hiring process, no one is better qualified to write a performance job description then you.
Though your mind might be overflowing with goals, skills, experience and competencies, you must refrain from translating all this information to paper. Think about the end-user; the perspective candidate reading your job description and deciding whether or not to apply. Do you think a wall of text and bullet points will present your organisation in the best light? Not only is it intimidating, but chances are your prospective candidate will grow tired of reading and move on.
When writing your performance job description, ensure it includes:
- A clear depiction of the role’s remit so prospective candidates can decide if they are a sound technical fit.
- Selling points that make the position and your company stand out compared to your competitors.
- Compliance with employment requirements that are applicable to your company.
Always highlight results and impact over responsibilities and requirements. A performance job description is a sales pitch, not a laundry list. Below are the seven elements you should include in a performance job description. Where helpful, we’ve included examples from one written for a pharma manufacturing role.
When deciding on a job title, consider what candidates are searching over how the job description will appear in your organisational flow chart. According to Keven Walker, Director of employee insights at Indeed, a well-crafted job title can increase job ad views by up to 1,000 per cent over a more conventional job title.
Statement of purpose
Now that you have piqued their interest with the job title, the statement of purpose acts to distil the essence of the role, the reason for its existence and crucially, why it matters. The description of purpose informs A-players what they can expect to get out of working in the position and for your organisation.
Leading on from the statement of purpose, goals/objectives are what you expect the job holder to achieve. An example of a goal for our pharma manufacturing role might be to pioneering the application of Operational Excellence activities. When defining top-level goals/objectives, three is the magic number.
Clearly identify the ‘essential functions’. This includes the jobs primary responsibilities and duties, for example, to develop a strategic Tech Operations manufacturing framework. It’s important to be as specific and transparent as possible when writing responsibilities to ensure legal compliance.
Qualifications and experience
State which qualifications and level of experience are prerequisites, for example, Proven knowledge of cGMPs and ISO regulations. If in doubt, consult with your coworkers or, if the role is new to your organisation, you wider network, to ascertain what experience and formal qualifications are essential for success.
Skills and competencies
Detail the hard and soft skills essential to deliver in the role. Hard skills are measurable, trainable qualities, for example, project management. In contrast, soft skills are traits that make you a good leader, for example, communication or decision making. Strive for a balance between hard and soft skills in your job descriptions.
About the organisation
Sell your company. Explain why it is a great place to work, what benefits and perks your offer and why they should apply to you and not a competitor. When writing this section, ensure you first familiarize yourself with the tune of your employee value proposition (EVP): the unique set of offerings and value to prospective candidates.
Now that you’ve drafted your performance job description, it’s time to format, proof and get sign-off from all relevant stakeholders. Some points to remember:
- Keep your writing concise yet informative.
- Use headers to break up the text into bitesize chunks.
- Use more informal language, so your organisation appears more human.
- Compare your job specification to your competitors.
- Proofread for typos and grammatical inaccuracies.
* This blog was first published on 14/04/2019 but was updated on 30/03/2020.
For more job search advice tailored to senior managers and executives…
- Read How To Choose Between Two Exceptional Leadership-Level Candidates.
- View our executive search solutions to see how we can help you gain a competitive edge through talent.
* Fraser Dove International is a specialist executive search firm operating exclusively in the Life Science industry. Passionate about people, we take pride in helping exceptional life science organisations source the talent they need to design, manufacture and distribute life-changing drugs, treatments and devices which transform and save patient lives.