Summer Success Series: How Do I Hire and Keep the Right Employees?


Step 1: Define Your Culture and Values

It’s time to chat about hiring practices. We’re looking at some possible fall hires for my team and it’s time to revisit/refresh our job descriptions and prepare for new team members. With that in mind, I have a few things I need to consider before I start on the job descriptions themselves. That’s where we’re headed today. 

But first, a reminder to help keep our work this week in perspective: 

Turnover costs a lot of money. In fact, here is a not-so-pretty but very effective list of the hard and soft costs of employee turnover. Review it for just a few minutes and let me know how quickly it takes you to start sweating. The fact is, it costs far less to hire slow and well, taking the time to communicate with potential team members and ensure that not only do you like them for the job but they’re also clear on what it’s like to work with you. 

As business owners/hiring managers we have to be eager to provide transparency into the day-to-day to ensure that individuals applying are prepared, especially for us small business owners and startups – you might has well hand your applicants a dozen different hats and let them know they’ll be wearing all of them at some point. 

Perspective summary – turnover costs us a small hidden fortune. Hiring well to keep great people includes our responsibility to communicate our culture and the job effectively. 

In order to get to a place where we’re ready to write our job descriptions, we need to pull a couple of things together, our culture, our voice, and the job duties itself. 

Let’s start with culture, you should already have that very well defined for your organization. If you don’t, you have extra credit work this week. A well-defined culture is a must for hiring well. We published a blog about defining your company’s culture a while ago. It has a great “Madlibs” style tool to help you with the process. Take some time this week to walk through that exercise if you’re concerned that your culture is unclear or badly defined. 

Let’s assume you read that blog post months ago and you’re already way ahead of the game with a clear culture. What are some big pieces you want to incorporate into your job description? You can (and should, IMO) share your company culture and values, linked to or included in the job description. 

Also consider what pieces of that culture can be more materially incorporated into the job description as well. I want us to spend 30 minutes between now and Wednesday considering those pieces of culture that maybe don’t even come across or aren’t as specifically included in the written culture. An example that just came to mind for me is: 

  • We’re a WFH disbursed team that starts our day every morning together at 9am on a G Meet, coffee in hand and prepared to go! 
  • We also, like to get together for work sessions since we all do live near(ish) each other, at least every couple of weeks. 
  • As a team, we expect each other to be available when the pressure is on and key deliverables need to be reviewed but we also allow the flexibility throughout the day to go for a long run or step away for a long lunch with old friends. 
  • We’re highly communicative because we’re dispersed about when we’re stepping away from our laptops or going heads down to do focused work and need to be undisturbed. 

These are a few concrete examples of our culture of a “results driven, high performing team” actually plays out. We like to allow flexibility when we are able but know that when the job needs to get done we all show up for each other and are present and communicative with each other. 

Take 30 minutes to bullet out those examples of how your culture looks in action today and tomorrow. We’ll be pulling together our new job description templates on Friday that will incorporate our culture, voice, and a clear list of job duties. 

Step 2: Add Voice to Your Job Posting

We are talking about ensuring that our job descriptions and really, job postings, give applicants a really good idea of not just the job duties and pay range, but also how your organization works and the tone of the organization (or voice). 

This benefits you both throughout the application process:

  • By giving individuals a means of weeding your job out of their application process you’re saving yourself or hiring manager time.
  • More information provides applicants a means of asking you better questions about the job, their potential team, your company, etc. – giving both of you a better understanding of each other throughout the hiring process.

Just to reiterate, this is super important because the better the hire from the start, the higher your rate of job retention. I’m not talking about making sure you’re hiring “a real go-getter” or finding someone with a “can do attitude” – you’re ensuring that you’re not only helping yourself make the right choice, but the applicant as well. If you’re not giving them as much information as you can on the front end, you could be setting both you and your new employee up for an expensive and time consuming failure. I know, because I’ve made this mistake myself and it sucks for everyone involved.

On Monday we talked about building your culture into your job description and posting. You should have brainstormed a list of ways your culture shows up in your organization that can be communicated in your job description and posting. Today let’s talk about nailing the voice of your posting. 

Supportedly tends to have a relaxed and business casual tone, but with less of the cheese and more of the “let’s get down to the business of growing your business.” I’m not going to write the job descriptions with my voice, I’m going to use Supportedly’s voice to try to best represent the entire organization and not just myself. 

If your organization is a bit more buttoned down, serious, and formal, you definitely want to reflect that in your job postings, but do please have some kind of voice that represents your organization. Use job description templates as a guide but make major changes to them to ensure you’re capturing your voice. 

Today is pretty straight forward, nail your organization’s voice. We might not even need to take the full 30 minutes for this one. 

Describe Your Organizations Voice

Spend the time you need to jot down a description of your organization’s voice. You likely already have it written out in your brand standards, but if not, that’s okay. Think about how your organization as a whole comes across – how you want your team to represent the organization, how you represent the organization, how the organization’s culture even informs the voice. Jot some brief descriptions down. No need to pull too much, again, if it’s not already enumerated somewhere, it’s all in your head.

Look at Your Old Job Postings

Pull out a job posting that you’ve used in the past and take a red pen mentality to it:

  • Add comments on sections or statements that don’t match your organization’s voice
  • Take a stab at rewriting a few statements to better match that voice
  • Note areas where you nailed the voice so you ensure that consistency throughout

Step 3: Write Your Job Posting

Your job descriptions aren’t just a hiring tool — that job posting is going to help you save a lot of time and money during the hiring process and after.  Remember, you’re helping applicants get a real understanding of not only the expectations of the job, but also what to expect when working for your organization.

Every individual who reads your job listing and decides it’s not the right place for them is a win, both for you and the job seeker. By providing clarity and authenticity upfront you’ve saved everyone time and money. 

Well, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Let’s pull all our week’s work together into our final product: the sample job description!

Once you have this at a place where you’re happy with it, it can become the boilerplate for all other job descriptions. 

The elements I like to have in my job descriptions are: 

  1. Title | Location | Full-time/Part-time/Contractor
    • Always start the listing with these basics.
  2. A Thorough Introduction 
    • This is your chance to introduce your organization’s culture to a potential applicant. 
  3. Your Day-To-Day
    • This is your opportunity to get more specific about the role itself. 
  4. Must-Have’s
    • Make sure these are your real deal breakers and don’t avoid adding soft skills in this section. 
  5. Nice-To-Have’s
    • Honestly, for some job descriptions, I don’t include this section. 

Take a look at this sample job description and posting I put together. In this example, I’m hiring for a project manager, but in reality, a lot of that intro is going to stay the same with some minor tweaks depending on the role. This leaves the “day-to-day,” “must-have’s,” and possibly a “nice-to-have” section. It takes me the longest time to write the intro because it provides a huge opportunity to help potential applicants understand my organization. 

Your assignment is to write a real job posting or for a role you’re currently hiring or one you’ll be hiring for soon. Spend the bulk of your time on that introduction and translate how your culture fits into your day-to-day within that section. 

Feel free to use the example job posting I created for us, but don’t fall into the trap of copying too much of it! Communicate your voice and your culture to potential future team members.

One final thought: adding a salary range. I go back and forth on this and would love to hear your thoughts. I typically do include the salary range but I’ve also read and heard that it’s not always beneficial. My gut is to provide as much information as possible to help applicants make the best decision for themselves. I’ve also heard posting a salary range can eliminate some really great applicants you might have been able to negotiate a salary with (hey, we’re a scrappy startup with a scrappy budget!) or provide additional benefits to off-set that lower salary. 

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