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Job description Rx Featured

8:05am EDT April 30, 2002
It's not easy filling positions in some industries, even in a looser job market, so there's little wonder that companies want to make their available jobs as attractive as possible.

Here's how a senior executive at a local company describes the method his company uses to devise a new job description: "My current philosophy is that when we get overloaded, we ask everyone to put down the parts they enjoy (and the parts they don't enjoy about their jobs), and the parts they don't enjoy become the job description for the new person."

His rationale?

"If you don't enjoy what you're doing, you're not very good at it."

It sounds like it might work, but is it a sound strategy?

"People in general do work better, faster, with more enthusiasm in an area they enjoy, and the trick is matching their skills and enthusiasm with what you need to get done," says Holly Maurer-Klein, president of HMK Associates Inc., a human resources consulting firm.

But she adds that people will put up with some unpleasant tasks if they generally like the job.

On the other hand, if you use the method our company exec suggests, you can end up constructing a job that doesn't exist elsewhere, says Maurer-Klein.

"Try filling that job," she says.

Even if you can, she says, there's no guarantee the new hire won't decide later there is some aspect of the job that he or she doesn't like.

The important first step is to figure out what your business needs, then construct descriptions of those jobs that need filled. That's your job, says Maurer-Klein. Your job applicants' task is to decide if the job you have available fits them.

The most difficult part of creating a hiring plan is figuring out which skill sets are needed to make the business thrive, says Maurer-Klein.

"You can't get around that by constructing perfect jobs for your employees; that's not what you're in business for." How to reach: HMK Associates Inc. www.hmkassociates.com