I have grown tired of the typical useless position spec. They are filled with boilerplate language, tell you little about a company’s story and very little about what is critical for a candidate to be successful in the role. Position specs have become generic.

Here’s an example: “Define, design, and implement complex, multi-tier distributed service-oriented architecture and software applications.” This doesn’t tell you anything of real value. What applications? What is the product roadmap and who is accountable for it? What are the priorities?

It’s time for a change. How does the label, or title, of a role translate into success? What exactly does the new hire need to do with and in the role? Merely listing duties and responsibilities is a cop-out. Prospective candidates need information that will help them determine whether and how they can be successful. And while we’re at it, companies could use a more useful document to help them tell the story and navigate an effective candidate assessment process.

The Engagement Spec, as we like to call it, must clearly and succinctly define five key elements:

  1. 100-day Key Initiatives (KIs) – The 2-3 clearly defined initiatives the new executive must complete or make substantial progress against in the first 100 days in order to be considered successful
  2. Critical decisions that align with the KIs – The 2-3 most important decisions that must be made in order to make progress on and/or complete each KI (these are part of what we’ll call the Decision Matrix, to be discussed further in our next blog post)
  3. Leadership competencies – In my experience individual companies view leadership differently, so this must be defined by your company
  4. Resources – The human and financial support the company will provide for the role
  5. Personal attributes – The characteristics typical of folks who work well in your company culture

Once you’ve identified this information, insert it into a slide deck, not a Word document. Then tell the company story with slides you’ve used for investor or sales presentation decks. Voila! Now you have a richer, more compelling story and one that will engage new talent with greater effectiveness.

This is what we call the Candidate version of the Engagement Spec. In our next blog post, we will talk about how to — and why you’ll want to — create a more detailed Company version.