How do I develop an effective job description?

TL;DR
❓Fundamental questions: Who are you? What you will do? How will you do it?
🖥 What are the special requirements for remote work?
🕔 What time difference is acceptable?
⌛ Is time flexibility an option?
🤔 Are there specific physical requirements?
📄 Specific description.

Once you have made the decision to develop a company around a remote workforce, you have many decisions to make. The key consideration in all cases is clarity of purpose and setting your team up for success from the very beginning.

A key part of this is communicating your needs to your global workforce. This starts with recruitment and how you write an effective job description.

There are several questions which you have to answer for your needs and yourself in order clearly communicate the needs of each position. None are particularly challenging by themselves, but each is an important part of finding the right people for your team.

The basics

Every job description begins with fundamental questions that are the same for any company.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • A well-defined title, or description of the position – answering the question, “Who are you?”
  • The job requirements and duties, answering the question, “What you will do?”
  • Performance standards and measurements, answering the question, “How will you do it?”

In all cases, clarity is essential.  It can be difficult to write a long description for use on job search sites, given space requirements.  One trick that you can use is to refer all candidates to a webpage with considerably more detail, using the listing as a way of catching the eyes of top talent. You can also use email to communicate more detailed needs once candidates have responded to a job post.

No matter what, the special considerations for recruiting a global workforce have to come second to the basics of defining the position well.  A study conducted by Raju and Banerjee at manufacturing facilities in Pune, India found that clear, well-written job description with defined responsibilities boosted the productivity of workers by 27% on average.  Other studies have shown that solid, measurable standards  in the job description are key to productivity from the start.

It’s important to have the right people on your team.  A good job description will catch their eyes and help them to self-identify if they are the right fit for your global workforce.

What are the special requirements for remote work?

The first and most obvious requirement is that your job description has to make it clear that you are recruiting a global workforce with remote locations.  That may not be appealing to every candidate, and it needs to be said up front.

In the outline of a job description above, two key questions are missing.  These are the “When?” and “Where?” that are very easy to answer in a fixed office.  In any remote work, however, they are much more interesting questions that you have to carefully answer for yourself.

You can start by asking yourself these questions and using whatever method you prefer to communicate them to any candidates which self-identify based on your job listing.

What time difference is acceptable?

Consideration of time zones is absolutely essential for a global workforce.  Generally, team members who have to work closely together cannot be more than three time hours apart.  It may be possible to have some teams in other parts of the world, but if communication between members or parts of the team are essential they need to have at least half of their day overlap.

It may be tempting to have team members work at night in order to align shifts on other sides of the world.  That rarely works well. An 1996 Princeton University paper combining a number of studies showed that the consensus between them was that night shift workers are 18% less productive and 12% more prone to errors.

Is time flexibility an option?

Many workers need time flexibility, or the ability to work when their family schedule allows.  This is one of the main benefits of a global workforce. It can also be a benefit for attracting top talent.  In a study by Mobile Progress Report, 54% of HR managers reported that they “occasionally miss out on the best job candidate because they cannot meet the candidates’ telework requirements.”

If this is an option for your global workforce, it can be very helpful to state that very clearly.  If there are good reasons why it is not, or there are restrictions on the flexibility, they should be stated in the detailed version of the job description.  Many candidates need to know this when considering a position, and the sooner it can be handled the better.

Are there specific physical requirements?

One of the great benefits of a global workforce is not having the expense of space for employees at one headquarters.  But that may not mean that there are no needs for physical space for equipment, quiet time, or other considerations. It is important to understand exactly what you need and what you can be flexible with.

Similarly, there can be significant hardware requirements.  If your employees need a high power computer, will they provide it or will you?  Do they need a 1GB internet connection? How important is the reliability of your hardware? All of these questions   to be answered, and many will point to a need for physical space to hole the hardware and provide the connections.

As an employer with a global workforce, you do have options.  One of them is to ask for a home office or to rent part of a coworking space. A 2015 study by Harvard Business Review found that employees found their work more meaningful and part of a community when they had a coworking space to go to.  It can make up for the lack of physical connection that remote workers often feel.

If this is an option, and you are willing to pay for such a space, it is important to state this up front.  It may even be part of a remote office in a city where you have several employees working closely together, even if they are far from the executive team.

A detailed, specific description

In all cases, your recruitment will be easier and more productive with a more specific job description.  You will be sure that candidates for your global workforce have already self-selected and are sure that the position fits their needs, cutting the number of resumes that you have to read.  These candidates will also be more productive and happier, given that open and direct communication was established at their very first introduction to your company.

The needs of remote workers are somewhat different than they are for a fixed location, but the benefits are large.  It’s important to be open and honest from the start to achieve transparency which makes remote work more productive, happy, and innovative.

Related Posts