Daily Archives: September 8, 2008

The Importance of the Job Description to your Talent Management Strategy

A few months ago I brought you a post on Purchasing Certification as a Savings Strategy that described the significant ROI that a company can expect to obtain by getting their entire purchasing department trained and certified. A department-wide certification ensures consistent processes and results across your purchasing team and insures that your overall performance, and, more importantly, whether or not you meet you savings targets, does not rely solely on a handful of star performers. Although it’s true that a star purchaser will often save three, five, or even ten times as much as an average purchaser, just like your star salesperson will often sell three, five, or even ten times as much as your average performer, betting the company on a single individual is akin to betting on a horse to win at the track. Not a strategy I’d bet my company on.

The post served as another example of how critical talent management is to today’s company, and today’s purchasing / procurement / supply management department in particular with commodity, raw material, and energy prices rising across the board in a stagnant economy where even holding prices steady might not be enough to keep a company in the black. Talent management, which starts with the acquisition process and extends to the eventual retirement of your talent, is a complicated topic and includes the marketing strategy you use to convince people to consider you as an employer.

Part of the marketing strategy you use to attract new talent is the job description, and even though you might not give it much thought, it turns out that getting this job description right is extremely important. As pointed out in a recent Next Level Purchasing white-paper, an outdated purchasing job description can have undesirable effects on a company’s talent management strategy. According to Next Level Purchasing, there are two severe consequences associated with using outdated purchasing job descriptions:

  • an outdated purchasing job description is likely to attract a purchaser who possessed the skills necessary for succeeding in previous years, but who does not possess the skills necessary for success today
  • an outdated purchasing job description can set the bar too low for the standard skill levels to which your current professionals will aspire

As a former R&D director, I can attest to the importance of a good job description. Without one, your probability of attracting the right candidate are low. For instance, although I can remember having to sift through fifty to one hundred applications on a regular basis just to find three to five candidates worth an interview even with a good job description, I can also remember more than one occasion where I did not get to write the job description and where I could not identify one suitable candidate among dozens upon dozens of applications. So what did this tell me? A bad job description was very unlikely to yield good candidates and a good job description, which was much more likely to yield good candidates, also served as a good foundation for eliminating those candidates obviously inappropriate for the job without the need for a lengthy interview process.

The white-paper also outlined the important components of today’s purchasing job descriptions, and, like many of the articles that Next Level Purchasing makes available on its website, is worth at least a once-over.