what do job descriptions reveal about your culture?

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Creating and maintaining job descriptions provides a way of communicating about the organization, performance expectations, and job requirements. Effective job descriptions serve as useful tools to entice applicants, inform employees, and help guide employment decisions; they provide details about the required skills, and must also convey information about your organizational culture.

Here are three ways to infuse some of your culture into your job descriptions—and on your website’s careers page—so that everyone understands what’s required:

  1. Include the mission statement. When your organization’s mission statement accurately reflects your culture and the way you conduct business, it serves as a guide for current employees as well as candidates. By highlighting the mission statement in your job descriptions, it reinforces what’s expected when it comes to cultural behavior.
  1. Describe the organizational culture. Outside of the mission statement, there are ways of working that are valued in every company. Maybe your organization is results-driven. Or maybe you’re committed to flexible work options. Describe your culture in a few sentences and share that vision on your website and in job postings. Not sure where to begin? Here are two examples from O.C. Tanner’s Top 10 Coolest Companies to Work For series:

    “At Lee Company, our mission is to create a workplace where our employees can thrive and to be committed in finding innovative and original solutions thoughtfully and reliably, to meet the specific needs of every customer.”

    “The talent that walks in our door is the foundation of our growth and success. A supportive atmosphere, recognition, and personal growth are satisfying career elements at JE Dunn.”

  1. Refer to core competencies. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “core competencies differentiate an organization from its competition and create a company’s competitive advantage in the marketplace. An organizational core competency is its strategic strength.” Hopefully, your company has identified core competencies, either formally or informally. Refer to those competencies within job descriptions to highlight how individual tasks and contributions relate to your organizational strategy and culture.

Keeping your culture alive doesn’t end with job descriptions. During an interview, you need to ask questions that highlight your culture and provide insight as to whether or not a candidate demonstrates behaviors and competencies that fit with those values. For example, if your organizational culture focuses on teamwork, ask about the candidate’s experience working in collaborative environments. An interview is also a time for you to be honest about work/life balance, work pace, and other realities of the organizational culture and environment. It’s better for a candidate to hear this information up front rather than being surprised in the first month or two after they are hired.

Most importantly, be honest about your culture. And, be sure you keep a great culture alive. If you advertise on the careers page and in job descriptions that your company values community service, results, teamwork, professional development (or all of the above), you must be able to deliver on the promises you’ve made.

By liz sheffield
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