Do you want to know the problem with job descriptions? They’re written for a job. Not for people.
Most hiring managers craft job descriptions as a sort of grocery list. Check off all of these “ingredients” required for the “recipe for success,” and you’ve got the perfect candidate. The trouble is twofold:
- Most candidates don’t check all the boxes, and sadly companies miss great talent because of it.
- This grocery list approach does a poor job of accounting for personality, character or temperament—which is just as critical to success as a candidate’s qualifications.
My experience says that only 70 to 80 percent of what a person brings to an organization overlaps the duties and responsibilities companies are looking for. Once an organization hires someone, it attempts to gain the lacking 20–30 percent through training so the new hire can fill the predecessor’s shoes.
But what if the new hire has other interests? Other skills that may not match the job description’s missing portion, yet are valuable nonetheless?
One of the key workplace trends I follow is engagement with the millennial generation. If employers and co-workers fail to engage their young professionals, they’ll receive the bare minimum from them, which is typically measured as 40 hours a week on the job. In fact some millennials become so efficient that they’re able to complete their “job” in less than eight hours a day, leaving them looking for things to do.
A good employer will give them more work to do—according to their job description.
A great employer will give them more meaningful work to do—according to their interests.
Nearly every employee brings that 20–30 percent to the table. Ignore it, and you’ve got status quo. Engage it, however, and you’ve got a super satisfied employee whose morale and commitment to your organization just shot through the roof.
For example, I was talking recently with a millennial who works in advertising sales. As our conversation expanded, I discovered he loves photography and has a passion for creative outlets. I asked him, “Does your employer know you love photography?” He said no, because they’ve never asked.
I pursued further.
“Do you see opportunities to use your photography and creative skill sets in other capacities within the organization?”
He answered yes.
My next question spun the tables a bit more. I asked him, “If the company were to employ your interests in photography, would your passion and commitment to your employer increase?”
He gave me a resounding “yes, definitely!” But then his face drooped and he said, “But my company is just focused on getting me trained in my functional area of sales.” So it should come as no surprise—he is now out looking for a new opportunity.
What if, instead of trying to make employees fit the round hole we’ve created, we start adjusting to the skills and interests they bring to our organization? This young professional I mentioned does a dynamite job with sales; the company is fortunate to have him. But he possesses this 20–30 percent of outlying interests that are not being engaged within his current role. And rather than discovering what his “30 percent” consists of and then creating mutually beneficial opportunities to employ it, this employer is focused on filling the gap with more of the primary role. Consequently, they may be about to lose a promising employee because of it.
I know some companies that get this. They’re giving their young professionals room to integrate their “30 percent” skills and interests within their primary “70 percent” role, and excitement among employees is sky high. This flexibility on the part of the employer is a game-changer in the quest to attract, motivate and retain young professionals.
So I’ve got to ask. Do you want to secure your company’s future with the best talent? Maybe it’s time to look differently at the people sitting in your chairs… before they turn up empty.