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Manager's Corner: Clear Needs Lead to Clear Hires

Manager's Corner
Clear Needs Lead to Clear Hires

I received a telephone call recently from a client desperately trying to fill a vacancy in her accounting office. After describing the situation she read the position description to me. Among other general items, it noted, "At least three years of accounting experience." Well that's just dandy, but what does that really mean?
Does the person she hires need to have three years of experience in her company's industry, or will three years of public accounting experience be OK? Does the person need to have three years of experience in managing accounts receivable, accounts payable, or both? Does this position even need to be able to "manage" these functions, or does this position just need to be able to input the data? My point to her was: Be clear and specific in stating what you need this person to be able to do. The clearer you can be in your expectations of each position, the clearer you can be during your search interviewing, and ultimately hiring processes.
It's usually fatal to assume that what you expect someone with three years of experience to be able to do is the same as everyone else's expecations. Given our own frames of reference, we each have vastly different expectations. Depending upon how we learned, what kind of environment we now work in, and how much we're willing to train others, we need to be very clear on what we need, and what we expect of a new hire when he or she comes to work for us. We need to be clear what new employees need to be able to do on Day 1, and well as what they'll need to be able to do on Day 369. This clarity allows us to advertise for openings more effectively, to interview more efficiently, and clarify for prospective employees more honestly, what their jobs will really be like. This clarity helps us and them.
Also, as we have all observed at one time or another in our careers, not everyone has the same level of responsibility and experience, even though their titles may be identical. An accounts receivable manager in one organization may be responsible for supervising a team of 27 collections clerks, while an accounts receivable manager in another organization, may simply be responsible for inputting customer payments. The same title requires two completely different levels of experience, and two very different types of people. However, if you advertise:
"Accounts Receivable Manager - three years of experience required,"
can you see the potential nightmare you just created as unqualified candidates apply?
Review and write your position descriptions in a way that more clearly states what you really need each person filling a position to know. Determine what specific tasks and responsibilities you expect each position to be able to fulfill. Also, state what personal characteristics and attributes (i.e., honest, independent, quick- thinker, etc.), you believe the successful candidate needs in order to not only fulfill the position responsibilities, but also to fit into your organization's environment.
Be clear in what you need, and you'll find you're much clearer when you hire.

Liz Weber of Weber Business Services, LLC. WBS specializes in Strategic, Business, and Succession Planning, as well as employee and leadership training. Contact: or 717-597-8890.

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