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Pre-JD: Gathering Requirements to craft an Effective Job Description


  • Introduction to the Pre-JD phase and its importance in the hiring process

  • The risk of recycling old job descriptions and the need to create custom JDs for each role

  • Align on team on core competencies and creating a job scorecard or specification

  • Detailed breakdown of what to include in the job scorecard

  • Best practices for writing inclusive job descriptions

The Essential First Step to Writing Effective Job Descriptions

Before a job description is written, and the role is announced, there's a pivotal phase in the hiring process that often goes unnoticed: the Pre-Job Description (JD) phase. It's not just about the job itself but the unity of the team's understanding of what gaps need to be filled on the team. Are all stakeholders picturing the same ideal candidate? Do they share the same expectations of the role's challenges and rewards? 

Differing expectations can cloud the hiring process and lead to missed opportunities in capturing and evaluating top talent. This guide delves deep into the intricacies of what comes before the JD – setting the foundation and ensuring that when you reach out to the candidate pool, every team member has a unified understanding of the role. Dive in as we unravel the preparatory steps to ensure a comprehensive and neuroinclusive Job Description.

Create Custom Job Description for Each Role to Find the Best Candidates

Recycling old job descriptions may seem like a time-saving approach, but it risks being outdated or irrelevant. This can lead to not attracting the high quality candidates or attracting talent that may not be a good fit for the job role.

Instead of reusing old JDs, create a new, up-to-date version for each role. This allows you to reassess the language and ensure it resonates with current talent pools.

Align Your Team on Core Competencies

Before you reach out to candidates, ensure your team is on the same page about what the job entails. It's surprising how often team members have different expectations. Create a job scorecard or specification that includes:

  1. Outcomes

  2. Functional Responsibilities

  3. Value-Adds

  4. Cultural Fit

Template attached → Content: What to Include

 A group of people are sitting at a desk and watching a video conference.

1  Focus on Defining Outcomes Over Job Tasks

Three women walking in an office.

Focus on outcomes, not tasks the individual will be responsible for. Job outcomes should be precise and measurable. A focus on outcomes, rather than tasks, provides a clearer picture of what success looks like in the role and the skills neeeded to be successful.

For example, "Increase customer satisfaction rates from 70% to 85% by Q2 2024."

2  Define Functional Competencies

Functional competencies relate directly to the job including skills and day to day activities this hire will be completing, as well as the skills for the role.

  • Be transparent about the day-to-day functions of the job.

  • Specify which skills are essential and which are 'nice-to-have.'

A woman is using a computer mouse on a wooden desk.

Remove arbirary qualifications. Excessive requirements can discourage candidates from underrepresentaed groups from applying.

Define The Necessary Value-Adds

Value-adds are those nonfunctional skills that can significantly impact a team or a project. Non-functional competencies like leadership and team-management skills are often overlooked but crucial, particularly in fast-

A group of people at a conference room.

paced environments. These skills can make a candidate an agile and valuable member of the team.

They go beyond basic requirements and often include skills like: 

  • Efficient work habits

  • Strong analytical skills

  • Ability to adapt to change

  • Excellent teamwork and communication skills

4  Evaluate Cultural Fit

Ensuring that a candidate's competencies align with the company's culture is vital. An organizational misfit not only affects team dynamics but can also have long-term repercussions on the company's bottom line.

A man and woman sitting at a table talking to each other.

Tips to Keep in Mind Across the JD - Best Practices from Industry Research

  • Refrain from using technical jargon or acronyms that may not be universally understood.

  • Completely eliminate any exclusionary or derogatory language from your JDs.

  • Strike a Gender Balance - Job descriptions often unconsciously lean towards a gender bias. Research indicates that balanced JDs attract a more diverse talent pool. Rethink your language choices to ensure you're inclusive of all genders.

  • Use Growth Mindset Language- Words that emphasize learning and growth can attract a broader range of applicants, including more women, according to studies. Use phrases that focus on development opportunities and the capacity to learn.

Headshot of Jhillika Kumar.

About the Author

Jhillika is the CEO and cofounder at Mentra, a fellow neurodivergent, Forbes 30 under 30 Social Impact awardee, honorary degree recipient and TEDx speaker for diversity and neuro-inclusion. Her experiences as the sister of a non-speaking autistic individual served as a catalyst for Jhillika to cofound Mentra— empowering companies to tap into the talents of those who society often overlooks… the neurodiverse.

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