Excite Your Candidates With A Project And Opportunity Description (POD)

Applicants know it and recruiters know it to… Job descriptions are boring! We WOW applicants with great web pages and savvy recruiters but when we get down to the “nitty gritty” we continue to “bore them to tears” in the area that leaves the most lasting impression… the description of the job they are applying for. The very best firms use market research techniques to find out what criteria applicants use to select which jobs they will apply for. Almost universally they find applicants want:

  • Challenging work
  • An exciting team
  • Opportunities to grow

Unfortunately when potential applicants get their first chance to see if this job meets their expectations they are confronted with a job description that contains no excitement and gives them little of the information that would excite them. For years recruiters have been using dated or rapidly put together job descriptions. With the advent of web pages the practice has become even more prevalent because it is so easy for a firm to put massive numbers of job descriptions on its web site. If the goal of the recruiter/manager is to excite the candidate it’s time to dump the job description and instead put together an exciting list of projects and assignments they might face in their new position. In short give them a POD (projects and opportunities description). What Is A Project And Opportunity Description? Recruiters need to re-think their use of these traditional job descriptions if they are going win the war for top talent. Focus groups are useful in identifying what applicants want to know about a job. For example one leading hi-tech firm found that there are indeed “triggers” that cause potential applicants to make the decision to apply. Application “triggers” include:

  • Interesting Projects
  • Opportunities and challenges
  • Learning and growth opportunities
  • The team they will work with
  • The culture and the management style they will work in

However most job descriptions contain:

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  • A list of daily tasks
  • A list of required experience and skills
  • Reporting relationships
  • Pay ranges, shifts, etc.

The difference in content is striking. A job description gives basic information about daily tasks while the candidate wants to know about the WOW’s and exciting elements of the job. Steps In Putting Together A Project And Opportunity Description (POD):

  1. Identify the factors that cause potential applicants to become excited about your job(s). Start by interviewing recent hires, then consider a focus group with potential applicants and finally put the question on your web page.
  2. Meet with the manager and several position incumbents and ask them to identify the types of potential projects, learning and growth opportunities that the new hire will be involved in.
  3. Do profiles of key team members. Include some interesting points about their skills, interests and background. Make it fun and interesting.
  4. Identify WOW factors about the firm and its culture. Survey employees and find out what makes your firm/culture unique and interesting.
  5. Prioritize the factors for inclusion in the POD. Arrange them so that the pre-identified factors fall in these categories:
    • Projects
    • Learning and grOwth opportunities
    • WOW’s about the firm
    • A profile of key team members
  6. Pre-test a sample POD with recent hires, managers and team members to judge and refine its excitement capability.
  7. Gradually evolve the POD on your web page so that it includes virtual job previews and plant tours, video clips of the team and samples of the results of previous successful projects.
  8. Over a period of time “feed back” what factors work and excite so that the managers can learn how to better excite and manage their current employees.

Summary: Think of POD’s as an exciting job brochure that replaces a dull job task oriented job description. It needs to be continually updated to ensure that the “POD” stays current. As you learn how to market the growth and learning aspects of any job you will see an increase in both the quantity and the quality of the applicants!

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.

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