How To Write A Good Job Description

A job description communicates your expectations to your employee, evaluates their professional performance, and sets the tone for their employment.  Failure to provide a job description leads to miscommunication and disorganization so it should be one of the first things you have your new employees sign.

How To Write A Job Description

Step One: Start With The Requirements

The first step is to make sure that you understand the job requirements that the employee will be performing.  If this position requires certain certificates or skills, make a list of all of these items.  Be sure to include them in the description.  Also, make a list of the preferred job qualifications. These additional qualifications separate the “meets basic expectations” candidates from the “highly desirable” candidates.

Step Two: Avoid Exaggeration

Exaggerating job description requirements puts you at risk and simultaneously loses you candidates.  You want to have a balance when you provide job descriptions. After all, you both advertise with these and have your selected candidate sign them.   So, you shouldn’t hire a candidate who does not meet your requirements.  Thus, making sure you don’t exaggerate your job description means that you can bring in good candidates.

Many companies do not follow this trend and it can be costly.  First, exaggerating job descriptions scares away many candidates.  So, your pool may be small.  Second, if you hire someone that does not meet your advertised “requirements” and other candidates get word of your decision, it hurts your reputation. Additionally, if candidates suspect you hired the under-qualified candidate for discriminatory reasons, you may have a lawsuit on your hands.  Even if you easily win such a dispute, it is still an expense that you can avoid.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that your rejected candidates will not know who you decided to hire.  In the age of social media, a 30-second linked-in search can quickly reveal your choices.

To avoid this, stick to your requirements and make them absolute.  Then, add your preferences to attract higher-end candidates.  This frees you up to pick and choose ideal traits of candidates and does not prevent qualified people from applying. It also gives you the freedom to select a less “qualified” candidate when our requirements are met, but you happen to have a trait in that candidate that is especially appealing.

Step Three: Include “Position Purpose” Statement

A position purpose statement communicates to the employee the “Why” behind what they do.  Employers often include a generic statement about the role of the job. However, a purpose statement gives value to the position. It allows the employee to understand the true importance of their role. It grows their knowledge and increases the likelihood that they will believe that their job makes a difference. Increasing this, in turn, increases the likelihood that your employee will be motivated to stay with your company.

Step Four: Include Physical Risks and Job Hazards

Many individuals will have a reason that they cannot perform a particular job or may need to request reasonable accommodation.  Being upfront about the risks associated with the job allows candidates to understand what you require.  It also enables them to be selective about the risks they are willing to take for their employment.

For example, you may have a construction position that requires exposure to elements and heavy physical labor.  You may have a lab position that requires exposure to toxic chemicals.  These risks should be communicated so that you do not fail to alert your candidates and employees fully. Many employees will be okay with these risks. However, failure to disclose these risks can be lawsuit risk. It can also be a reason that you end up having high turnover rates.  You may get candidates who are not aware of the risks and leave quickly once they discover the true nature of the job.

Step Five: Signature Lines, Dates, and Official Sign-Offs

This step is standard, but important.  As companies grow, it is common for documents to change an evolve. Often, these new documents will reflect important changes, but then managers will still use the old document.  The official job description should always have a sign-off from a person in leadership. This may be the HR department or the owner if the company is too small to have an HR person on staff.

Additionally, the job description should include the version number and the date that it was created.  Whenever a new job description is signed and put into the employee’s file, someone should do a quick check to make sure that it is a recent and accurate job description.

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Readers,

Our regularly scheduled blog post is going to be replaced with this Thanksgiving recipe post.  Have a wonderful time with your families and friends!

Look for our regular post next week and enjoy this delicious pumpkin pie drink recipe in the meantime.IMG_20181030_194351

Pumpkin Pie Holiday Drink

3 ounces Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer

1 ounce of Rumchata

2 ounces whipped cream Vodka

1 tsp Allspice

Garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon and enjoy!

With Love and Pumpkin Spice,

The Little Fish Team

5 Ways To Avoid Red Flag Candidates

Red flag candidates: these are the candidates that show you before you hire them that they aren’t right for the job.  However, an interviewer may miss these or a candidate may be exceptionally good at interviewing. In short, red flags can be easily missed. Overall, interviewing a candidate is known to be ineffective. According to this study, 81% of new hires do not succeed in their positions. The most utilized method of evaluating candidates today is the job interview.  Candidates are brought in, questioned, and leave in short periods of time.  Companies then repeat this process in a few weeks or months when candidates leave their positions. So, what can you do to improve their retention rate and get to know your candidates? Little Fish has outlined the things that have helped us to discover red flag candidates in our interviews and has led to better success in candidate retention rates.

1. Check Basic Qualifications

You can hire for personality and train for skill, but in an interview you can’t find out much about a person’s real personality.  So, the first thing that is important is making sure that a basic skill-set exists. For example, if you’re hiring someone to be a director of a department, picking someone you like will have nothing to do with whether or not they can perform the basic tasks required of them.  Don’t just look for experience (although that is as plus): look at the pieces of the job that must be performed.  Once you have a pool of people that can perform these tasks, move onto choosing the right personality for the job. Also, recognize the value of translatable skills. Some candidates adapt faster than other candidates. If you fall into the trap of only considering candidates with exact matches of your list of qualifications, you will miss out on candidates that may actually be above average performers. If you have a complex job that includes skills you don’t understand, talk with an expert in that field. If possible, keep them involved so that they can tell you tell you more about the job skills needed. Doing this helps you to truly hire a person that can achieve these tasks.

2. Ask Open-ended Questions

Asking open-ended questions allows you to gauge the candidates response. You can tell if they are 1. Prepared 2. Nervous 3. Prone to over-share 4. Practiced.  Sometimes they will have no answer.  While these are not in themselves indicators of an individual’s personality, they add factors into the person’s puzzle of who they are and who they want you to think they are. Sometimes, these open-ended questions will lead to candidates saying things that disqualify them for the job entirely or make it clear they have no interest in the position.  In actual interviews, Little Fish team members have had candidates say they “just need a job and don’t care where they work.” This kind of response speaks volumes because it immediately shows the candidate doesn’t care about this position.

3. Ask Candidates To Tell A Story

Photo Credit: Bill Smith. Byzantium Books.
No, this isn’t a bed-time story. Red flag candidates will often share a tell by sharing a story about a time they did X.   This is a way to get candidates to share with you a proof of one of their qualities. For example, a candidate informed me that they, “Got along great with everybody.”  Next, I  asked the candidate to tell me about a time they had a conflict and how they managed it.  Their response was a huge red flag. They informed me that they’d “really gotten into it” with a co-worker.  Then, the candidate had gone to the manager, but the manager didn’t address their concerns.  So, then the candidate and the manager, “really got into it.” Finally, the candidate revealed that the manager fired them for fighting with their coworkers. The candidate finished by stating that the manager was just, “out to get me.” This candidate story exemplified poor conflict management skills. This candidate ended up being a red flag candidate that was not hired.  Candidates will often reveal truths that will otherwise remain hidden when they are asked to exemplify their claims.

4. Use Assessment Tests

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There are many assessments online that allow you to learn more about your candidate outside of the interview.  It is up to you to decide how to best select these assessments. Sometimes, the most important aspect of a job is a candidate’s personality (such as in a customer service position) other times it is their skills with in-depth thinking and problem solving.  In the first-case, a personality test may be helpful.  In the second case, you may want to give the candidate a problem to solve and ample time to create a theoretical solution. Remember: if you give the wrong test, you may disqualify an excellent candidate. Make sure you consider what you actually need to assess about your candidate.The right assessments provide extra insight into the candidate. If  you want some good candidate assessments check out our list of candidate assessment tests.

5. Get To Know Your Type

startup-593341_1920.jpg If you’ve ever had someone fill this kind of role before that was an all-star player, take some time to consider the traits of this prior (or current) employee. Their success has a cause.  Make a list of traits, skills, and achievements of this employee. Then, look for similar traits in other candidates.  Make sure to observe both hard and soft skills of this employee. Soft skills are extremely important (but often overlooked). The most successful companies type-cast their candidates.  Right down to the schools they come from and the grades that they receive. They make recruiting a systematic process that takes very little internal time and helps them to better target their recruiting dollars towards getting the candidates that are most likely to succeed in these types of roles.  So, collect data on your successes and apply them to improve your recruiting and reduce your pool of red flag candidates.  

The Best Candidate Assessment Tests

A good candidate assessment goes long way in helping you pick the best candidates for your company.  If you’re not sure how to evaluate your candidates, then you’ve come to the right place.  It’s a well known fact that a job interview is not a good indicator of candidate performance.  So, it is important to find additional ways to evaluate your candidate.

As a disclaimer: we receive $0.00 compensation for these mentions.  However, if you choose to purchase any of these items through Amazon, doing so through our affiliate store helps us out. 

Below are the best candidate assessments that we’ve used to date. There are various pricing structures and even free versions. However, using these is only part of the candidate story. Make sure you consider other aspects of your candidate as well, such as their experience, manager references, and any skills that may be unique to the position.

Also, consider the type of position you are hiring for.  If you’re hiring a candidate that needs specific skill-sets, but not a specific personality, you may wan to focus on assessments that are skills-based more than personality assessments.

However, for those situations in which you want an insight into the personality and work-style of your candidate, we’ve got our top picks here.

16 Personalities: Free

This test is a free version of the Meyers Briggs. The test comes with a nicely laid out testing structure. If you just want a birds-eye view of your candidate’s personality, use this. This test is an easy way to get a large scope of your candidates self-image and personal preferences.

However, as with all personality tests, recognize that this test is not all inclusive.  These types of personality tests measure self-perception. They do not necessarily give you a look into how a candidate’s personality effects their working style.

So, if your candidate tests  as an introvert, they may be a fabulous salesperson too.  Some of the best salespeople of all time are introverted. The moral of the story: consider the results, but don’t use them as an end all.  Check  16 Personalities out by clicking on this link. It is also important to recognize that since this test is free, you have no power to get the results without your candidate voluntarily submitting them to you. So, recognize that weakness and prepare for it in advance.

DISC: Paid And Free

You can purchase the DISC assessment from a variety of sources. There are some free versions available as well, but they may not officially be a part of the DISC assessment and may bear its name only. So, if you do a bit of research you may be able to find one that is available for your use, but use with caution.

The DISC test tends to be an in-depth exploration of working styles. It can be excellent for assessing leadership styles.  This assessment looks deeply into how a candidate tends to think and solve problems.  DISC assesses personality too, but does not focus on it.  This helps to fill in the weaknesses of a personality-only candidate assessment.  Additionally, the paid version of the DISC adds the benefit of sending you results automatically. Check out the DISC official website.

Team Roles Test: Free

With a Team Roles Test, you can explore the specific roles in which people tend to fit the best on a team. We have never used a paid version of this test, but some do exist.

The team roles test focuses on working styles, but leaves out personality. This kind of test is especially helpful when looking at working styles as well as the types of roles that a candidate likes to fill. It takes a group oriented approach. This means that the test assesses how candidates tend to work in groups, rather than on their own. This can be especially helpful when adding a candidate to a preexisting team. To learn more about the Team Roles test, try it out for yourself.

Clifton Strengths: Paid

The Clifton Strengths in an in-depth profile of your candidates working styles and preferences. This tests provides around 15 pages of information on your candidate and allows you to read about their best qualities.  You can also request a page that shows every score from highest to lowest.  This has the added benefit of allowing you to know how a candidate will fit into your team overall.

The Strength’s Finder makes team-building easier as well. It helps you define your ideal team and create a good working environment.   By understanding your candidates, you are able to create a good working environment that motivates and inspires your employees.

This assessment is good both for candidate assessment and for employee assessment and team building.  To check it out, you can read more about it on the Gallup Strength’s Finder Website.

Year End Payroll Tasks

The end of the annual year brings a close to payroll for 2018.  Employers should issue W-2 forms and 1095-C forms (if applicable) no later than January 31, 2019.  Closing out the year involves many small tasks to make the start of next year’s payroll a breeze.  Below is a list of important tasks to help employers wrap up the 2018 payroll year:

1. Check Employee Tax Deductions

Reach out to employees and remind them to check their current tax withholding deductions. Afterwards, increase or decrease deductions as needed. Let your employees know, now is the last chance to correct any errors or make last-minute updates.  By the end of the year, there will be nothing more they can do and the employee will have to make corrections with their tax return.

2. Do An Information Audit

Audit your employee records and make sure that everyone’s information is accurate. Check for SSN numbers and updated mailing addresses. Ask your employees to verify that you have the correct social security number in your system.  If anyone has left during the year, try to make sure you have a way to send them their W-2.

If possible, provide employees with the option to receive an electronic W-2. An electronic W-2 delivery streamlines your W-2 delivery process and ensures nobody fails to receive their tax forms. Check your state’s guidelines on specific laws for delivering W-2 forms.

3. Make Sure You Have Updated Federal & State Tax Forms

Make sure you have all your W-9 forms on file for your 1099 independent contractors and W-4 forms for your employees.  While you should be collecting these forms prior to paying your contractors and employees, now is the time to do an audit and make sure you have one for each individual that has performed work for you throughout the year.

Also, double-check your state tax forms. Collect any outstanding state tax forms for all of your contractors and employees. Check your state’s specific guidelines for the full listing of required tax forms.

4.Check Non-Tax Related Deductions & Plans

Check any pensions, 401ks, flexible savings or health savings accounts, healthcare plans, or insurance deductions. Make sure all year-to-date amounts are correct.  If there are errors, make adjustments.

5. Check That Social Security & Medicare Taxes Are Accurate

Check the employer and employee portions of Medicare and Social Security taxes to ensure accuracy.  You should check both the employer portion and employee portion.

The employer portion of medicare is 1.45%  and social security is 6.2% of total employee’s wages.

Additionally, employee percentages should be 1.45% for medicare and 6.2% for social security.

See this article from the IRS on additional details for medicare and social security withholding.

6. Check Employer Unemployment Deposits

Check employer unemployment deposits.  Pay all amounts due for the final quarter.  Additionally, make sure unemployment has not been paid beyond your state’s taxable wage limitation. Check with your states unemployment office for this limitation where applicable.

7. Check For New Rates

Check for any new rates to insurance (unemployment, disability…etc.) where applicable. Make sure to notify your payroll service of the new rates or update the rates as needed.

8. Make Sure Your Payroll Totals Match

For this you want to make sure of the following:

  1. Compare payroll register totals to Form W-3 totals and make sure there are no discrepancies.
  2. Check forms W-2 for the correct state and local tax report totals.
  3. Compare total wages reported for each tax. Make sure any differences are paid or reconciled.
  4. Check reported tax on Forms 941.  Make sure they match total taxes and wages  reported from Form W-3.
  5. Make sure all employee tips are properly recorded and taxed and that all totals match. (If applicable).

9. Update Deductions

Remove any employee taxes and/or taxable blocks that are outdated. Also, update any deductions or garnishments that are not desired for the new year. Also, make sure to document any tax changes.  Store any deduction updates in your employee’s file.

10. Create A Payroll Schedule for 2019

Finally, schedule new year payroll dates, quarter closes, and all processes for 2019.  Plan for any early pays based on holiday changes..etc.  Additionally, make sure that any bonus pays are planned and scheduled in advance.  Release this new schedule to your employees as well as a full listing of paid holidays or scheduled days you will be closed.

Photo Credit:

“The lower-your-taxes button” by bradhoc is licensed under CC by 2.0