Are You Overspecifying Your Open Jobs?

Are too many job descriptions over-specifying what they need? I read these two posts: Shooting Ourselves in the Foot Isn’t an Effective Engagement Strategy and Top 3 Hiring Mistakes to Avoid. Both posts discuss poor job analysis. This is the issue of How Many Essential Skills Do You Require? Over-specifying a job is bad management and it’s bad for business. Have you read What are you leading? If you don’t know, you might tend to over-specify the job, too. Is this difficult? Of course it is. You need to think about this for more than five minutes. But it doesn’t take more than about 15 minutes, not if you do this with your team. You don’t have to do it by yourself. Laundry-list job descriptions or shopping list job descriptions are crazy. They make it impossible for anyone to fit the job, and they say nothing about cultural fit. Don’t write them. Job analysis and job descriptions are not about technical skills. Sure, technical skills count, but cultural fit trumps technical skills every time. Cultural fit is how you get engagement and keep people in a job they enjoy. (If you don’t know how to do a job analysis, download the template from Hiring Geeks That Fit.) Instead, do a job analysis, and determine your cultural issues. That’s what counts. That’s what will provide you employee engagement and prevent you from making hiring...

How Many Essential Skills Are You Demanding in a Job?

When I taught that one-day workshop in Sweden, one of the questions we discussed was the number of essential skills to list in a job analysis, and by extension, the job description. Too few essential skills, and you don’t differentiate your position from anyone else’s. Too many, and you over-constrain the role. Surely, there must be a “Goldilocks” approach, right? I suggested you start with three or four essential qualities, preferences and non-technical skills. Just three or four. Remember, these are essential. You can always add more desirable qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills. You want these for cultural fit. Next, think of the technical skills: functional skills, domain expertise, industry expertise, and tools experience. Now, think of no more than three technical skills that you require as essential. Now, you have plenty of essential skills. Plenty. More than that and you have over-constrained the position and you will make it impossible to hire. If you are taking more than six weeks to hire for one of your open positions, review your job analysis. Do you have more than three essential qualities, preferences, or non-technical skills? Pare them down, and consider which ones are desirable vs. essential. Do not keep too many qualities as essential. You are kidding yourself, unless you are trying to hire a very senior person for a ton of money. If you are confused about how to do this, read Hiring Geeks That Fit, and download the job analysis template (available to everyone). Do not over-constrain your job descriptions. Spend a little time analyzing your job, and you will hire fast and...

What Scrum Master Are You Hiring Posted

I have another article posted on InfoQ: What Scrum Master Are You Hiring? I’ve noticed that many organizations are calling certain positions Scrum Masters, and they might be Scrum Masters, but to me, they are anything but. You need to do a job analysis first, and name the position second. This is all about cultural fit. Go read the article and comment over there. I await your...

Avoid Contributing to the “Global Epidemic” of Poor Job Fit

I read this article, “Poor Job Fit: A Growing Global Epidemic.” Julie Moreland, the author, says our hiring approaches neglects to account for an individual’s suitability for a potential job. … Research from Towers Watson shows that companies with high levels of employee engagement improved operating income by 19.2 percent, while those with low levels of engagement declined by 32.7 percent. Companies simply can’t afford to hire employees who are a poor job fit. Gee, that sounds like we are not taking the time to assess our culture, or to hire for cultural fit. And, it sure sounds like it’s cost effective to do so. I disagree with some of Julie’s decisions, unsurprisingly enough. I agree with her that we need to improve the candidate experience. But I don’t agree that we need to make the screening process more efficient, if efficient means even more use of those darn automated candidate tracking systems. Yes, I’m a geek. Yes, I have programmed many systems. Yes, I understand databases. Yes, I understand the government has all these rules and regulations about how long we need to keep the resumes. And, NO, the ATS is not the way you filter resumes to see if a candidate is a good match for your geeks. It’s just not. The ATS encourages people to streeettcchhhh–that would be lie–the truth on their resumes. I’ve seen an ATS mangle resumes, especially for geeks. The ATS doesn’t help you understand how valuable a catalyst kind of person is or could be on your team. And, since you need lots of diversity on your team to create great products,...

Make Your Job Ads Work For You

I recently worked with a hiring manager who was having trouble with his job ads. They were not working for him. The ads were not screening out the more senior people. They were not screening in the more junior people. As part of the problem solving, I asked him to send me the job analysis and the ad. When I looked at the analysis, I could tell why. He’d done a job analysis, but to me, it looked like a surface attempt. We reviewed his job analysis and iterated on it. Armed with a more detailed analysis, he rewrote his ad, which is now running. I don’t have data yet on whether this ad is helping potential candidates screen themselves in or out. Certainly, the hiring manager will have be able to tell faster with his phone screens. If your ads are not working for you, first look at your job analysis. Iterate on it. Ask other people to review it. See if it’s detailed enough for you to write a job ad from it. It might not differentiate the essentials from the desirables. It might not differentiate the levels enough. It might ask for too much in a junior level person, which is why more senior people are applying. Remember, your job analysis is your user story for everything you do next. You don’t have to be right the first time. You do want to use the feedback of not-quite-right candidates to refine your job analysis and job ad. Take your time and make the analysis right. Iterate on the analysis. Then your job ad will work for...

Fantastic Stories of Overqualified Employees

I’ve had a heavy speaking calendar this month. I knew I’d be home, so I accepted a number of local and close domestic speaking engagements. I’ve been surprised by some fantastic stories of managers and employees. First, there’s the well-meaning manager who wants a current tester to be “motivated” to do manual testing. “How do I motivate him to do manual testing?” was the question. I asked, “What’s that person doing now?” “Automated testing.” “Why would you have the person do manual testing??? If you have someone who is more capable, why would you ask that person to do less than their capabilities?” “Because the other people aren’t as capable and  I want everyone to feel like part of a team.” Asking someone to do less than they can is not the way you make a team. The way you make a team is by having people work together, committing to each other. If you are not sure of the work you need done, you do a hiring strategy and a job analysis. Next, there’s the director who marched an automation expert to HR to fire the expert because he wouldn’t do manual testing. Now, I have no idea if this guy was warned or if there were any other issues, but my goodness, test automation engineers are few and far between, and he seems like a reasonable enough guy. Firing someone because you are a bad manager is more bad management. Firing a rare person is the height of stupidity. And then there is the organization who thinks that they must be the best organization in the world...