Don’t Post That Job Listing Before Taking These 5 Steps

A critical but often overlooked part of the recruiting and hiring process happens before the job description is posted — or even created. Hiring managers should conduct a thorough assessment of their team’s current skills, aspirations, and culture to make sure they’re courting candidates with the skill sets and capabilities will truly add value to the team and organization — both now and in the future. The author offers five steps for conducting a comprehensive assessment before creating that job description.

In the rush to fill positions, many hiring managers often overlook critical steps when scaling their teams. Without conducting a thorough team assessment before creating job descriptions, they risk ending up with skill gaps, which can result in a lack of agility. Rather than simply adding headcount, it’s essential to take a more strategic approach, understanding which additional skill sets and capabilities will truly add value to the team and organization — both now and in the future.

Here’s how to conduct a comprehensive assessment before creating that job description.

Step 1: Strategically align goals

Begin by aligning your team’s goals with organizational objectives. While this may seem obvious, it helps you anticipate evolving skill requirements, ensuring you hire talent who not only meets current demands but also fuels future agility and growth.

For example, imagine your company is moving toward data-driven marketing but isn’t quite there yet. That strategic direction will likely require employees to have skills like data analysis and strategic thinking, as well as technical proficiency in digital marketing platforms, social media analytics, and marketing automation tools. Therefore, a marketing leader will want to seek candidates who can demonstrate deep technical skills.

Communicate transparently with candidates about future skill needs to ensure they won’t feel underutilized if all their skills can’t be leveraged immediately upon hire.

Step 2: Conduct talent planning

Conduct a thorough talent assessment to identify both your whole team’s and individual members’ existing skills and potential gaps.

Individual skills inventories and tools — for example, the 9Box performance assessment, 360-degree assessments, individual development plans, and talent performance reviews — can help you evaluate each team member’s hard and soft skills. This can provide deep insight into which skills and capabilities are missing on your team. Without these insights, you may default to repurposing positions held by long-term employees who lack the skillsets needed for the future but have historical knowledge critical for business continuity.

A SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) can help you identify where your team has excelled and where it has faced challenges while working on previous projects, cross-functional engagements, or organizational changes. Ask cross-functional stakeholders to weigh in on your assessment to ensure a new hire will fill team gaps in alignment with stakeholders’ needs.

Step 3: Evaluate team structure

Analyzing the current team structure will help you determine how well it supports your strategic goals and whether existing roles and responsibilities are aligned with the team’s objectives. Identify any structural issues that could be addressed by new hires or internal adjustments.

For example, if all of your team managers are considered inexperienced at people leadership, you’ll want to hire someone with deep management expertise who can help mentor the novice managers. If your team has work spread across numerous people, thus hampering decision-making, perhaps work needs to be consolidated under one leader, and you may need to hire someone to manage areas that won’t be consolidated.

Step 4: Identify team cultural nuances

While subject matter expertise, diversity of thought, and technical skills are crucial, ensuring a candidate can integrate well into the current team will help maintain a harmonious work environment and prevent conflict. Assess your team’s unique dynamic to identify which types of personalities have blended into the team well and which have struggled to fit in or be successful. Looking for candidates who can complement the existing team will ensure smooth onboarding and enhance the team’s productivity. For example, if your team values close collaboration, a candidate who prefers to work completely independently might create friction that detracts from the work goals.

Step 5: Understand team members’ aspirations

This is an overlooked yet critical step before putting together a job description. Employees are more engaged and productive when their aspirations and interests are considered alongside organizational needs. By understanding current team members’ values and career interests, leaders can avoid courting new hires with overlapping aspirations or career interests.

For example, if a leader already has three team members who aspire to manage people, hiring another person with similar aspirations may lead to frustration for them, as they may see themselves as behind the three other tenured team members in line for management opportunities. Conversely, if a seasoned people leader is hired, the three tenured employees may feel they have no room for advancement.

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By embracing a strategic and holistic approach to talent assessment prior to hiring new employees, companies will be able to uncover additional avenues for growth, optimize team dynamics, and ensure they bring on board individuals whose capabilities align with the organization’s future needs. Ultimately, this proactive approach not only bolsters team effectiveness but also fortifies the organization’s resilience by future-proofing its workforce against evolving challenges and opportunities.

Hiring and recruitment, Talent management, Digital Article

Marlo Lyons
Marlo Lyons is a career, executive, and team coach, as well as the award-winning author of Wanted – A New Career: The Definitive Playbook for Transitioning to a New Career or Finding Your Dream Job. You can reach her at

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