Writing a great job description for startups

Above all, a good cover letter helps the most

What are the qualities you look for an employee in your organization?  There may be a lot, but these four are essential: Self-motivated, Risk taking, Accountable and Dependable. It is either an attitude mismatch, culture mismatch or expectation mismatch that makes employees eventually stop showing the key attributes mentioned above.

But why does this happen?

The core reason is that most startups do not know how to attract right talent. Attracting talent is not necessarily about a great innovative business concept or model. It is about being genuine about what you have to offer and leave it at that.

It’s because of this pressure that startups usually make big hiring mistakes costing them hugely.

How you can address this dilemma?

The simple solution is the ‘Job Description’, which is the first attempt by the startup to attract the right talent.

Giving below are few key tips on how to make a Job Description. These would help you attract the Talent that will fit your overall requirements:

Tell them your Vision

Many founders shy away from writing their vision in a job description for the risk of exposing their plot. Or in most cases the candidates never understand the vision. Here’s where they go wrong. A well articulated dream/vision always finds people who have dared to dream themselves but could not pursue it. The reality is that many startups do end up hiring smart people. This happens irrespective of whether they are from the same industry or have all the requisite skillsets. So make sure a good vision story is critical in a JD.

Founder/ Investor Credentials

If the startup is funded, giving a view of the investor credibility is important in building candidates confidence. Most of the time people stay away from startups because of fear of instability and sustainability challenges. If you are not invested yet, then writing about the founder’s credentials builds confidence. End of the day companies are built by people and with strong leadership, the surety of the company making it big eventually is very high.

Define Accountability (not responsibility)

There is a very thin line between Responsibility and Accountability. Responsibility means ‘allocated tasks’ and Accountability means ‘ownership of tasks’. Here the person owns the domain of work and operates like a founder within that domain. Making someone accountable reduces founder’s time and energy on solving operational tasks. So when you define the role, ensure you mention ‘accountable’ for a function and will be fully empowered to

Working Conditions

Be brutally truthful about what stage your startup is and how the current team is functioning. Write about your small office currently but with a visibility of shifting to a bigger space once a certain milestone is achieved. Write about how some of your existing team members are juggling with multiple tasks at a time resulting in getting exposed to areas where did not think they would ever build experience. Write about the positive attitudes most of your teams exuberate. You may also talk of people who did not last long with you primarily because of mismatch of expectations etc.

Job Specifications

Finally ensure that specifications like skill-set, prior exposure or experience, location, timings are also mentioned. Mention how the selection process is defined like test, telephonic, skype interview, face-to-face interview, assignment etc. Highlight how such processes enable the candidate also to discover whether the startup is the right employment opportunity for him/her.

Regarding salary, mention a narrow range, but with caveat that if the candidate is able to convince of a greater ROI then a mutually agreeable salary & compensations can be defined.

A great, factual and truthful Job Description is an important way to attract the right talent that will fit well with your startup. If the Job Description is cut-pasted from somewhere, you will attract talent that will be suitable for that somewhere – not You!

What pointers do you keep in mind while writing a good job description? Do share your views.





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