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How to Define your Position Profile

I always encourage hiring managers to dedicate time to creating a solid plan for hiring before moving forward on recruitment activities. In my ideal world as recruiter, all of the "details"---sourcing strategies, interview teams, vetting resources, etc.---are sorted-out and finalized during a dedicated Kickoff phase before anyone even thinks about going online and posting an open position.

It's fascinating how often we want to "hurry-up and post" our open roles without dedicating the necessary time to thoroughly define our roles and plan for recruitment. To be clear, I completely understand why! There's work to be done, and the sooner a position is advertised, the sooner we can get to the hiring, and the sooner we can get work accomplished. I get it completely.

But what are the consequences of not slllowwwing down to define the "right" hire?

Wasted time?

Wasted team morale?

Wasted money?

ALL of the above?!


We don't want these consequences. It's important to have crystal clear confidence when we start every search process, which involves knowing exactly who we're looking for, and what it really means for our new hire to be an ultimate success.

Below are three simple, but critical questions we should answer to support crafting our Position Profiles.

But first, picture this:

It's one year from now. Your new hire (let's call her Beatrice!) has just reached her one year anniversary. The two of you are about to meet and conduct Beatrice's annual performance review. As you leave your desk, you reflect on the past year and Beatrice's work. You're actually looking forward to this meeting and, as you walk past your colleagues towards the meeting room, you're beaming with managerial pride. Beatrice has performed exceptionally this past year and you can't wait to discuss with her just exactly how.

Question 1: Which three projects did Beatrice successfully complete this past year, and what specific aspects of the projects were successful?

This question (ok, two-part question) probes the core responsibilities of Beatrice's role. The three projects (maybe four, but no more than five) you discuss with Beatrice should serve as insight into what you deem as the most important priorities for the year. As you write your Position Profile, the core responsibilities of this role should reflect your discussion with Beatrice as to what was successful and what made you most proud. Include language you and Beatrice used to describe the specific aspects of the projects that were successful, especially aspects that relate to the organization's overall strategy and long-term goals.

Question 2: What did Beatrice say were some of the challenges she faced this past year?

Remember that your performance review meeting with Beatrice is a conversation. Her feedback to you is just as important as your feedback to her. Her accomplishments may have "met or exceeded your expectations," but she may have seen things differently. By understanding Beatrice's challenges, you have an opportunity to provide mentorship and support her growth.

As you craft the Position Profile for this role, include the points Beatrice indicated as challenges as preferred (but not required) qualifications. It's clear from Beatrice's success that skills in these areas are not absolutely necessary to achieve success, but possessing them would serve as advantageous for potential candidates. Additionally, these areas could be ones that a stellar candidate might be interested in growing into. Therefore, ensure you (as the manager accountable for this role) are able and willing to provide training in these challenge areas either yourself, or through some other means. Providing a pathway for growth for excellent new hires (and excellent existing employees like Beatrice) is essential for keeping "the best" your organization.

Question 3: How do others in your organization describe Beatrice as a colleague?

Now you really get to gush! You get to tell Beatrice how much her colleagues love working with her and why. You talk about Beatrice's communication style, her demeanor, her work ethic, her embodiment of the greatest parts of the organization's culture and values.

Knowing Beatrice's personality and understanding why colleagues love working with her is essential to understanding the type of person who would thrive in this role. As you write this Position Profile, take the time to present the characteristics that are critical for success. And, most certainly, identify the traits that will not just fit into your organization's culture, but enhance it.

Now beam back to present.

You've spent time envisioning your future ultimate hire, but the work to find this person lies here in the now when you begin to craft your Position Profile. Do yourself and Beatrice a solid by dedicating time to define her success.

After all, (don't quote me, quote Plato!):

Don't quote me...quote Plato!


Pascale Hughes is a passionate Recruiter and Talent Acquisition Coach for nonprofit organizations.

Through her informative blog posts and valuable recruiting resources, tools and tips, Pascale helps nonprofit and human resources leaders identify, attract, hire, and retain, talented and Mission-driven employees.

And when she's not in full recruitment or training-mode or creating resources for clients, you can find Pascale collaborating with her social tribe in the PTS Community, reading (or Audibling) a business or personal development book, or spending time with husband Shannon, and two children, Simon and Tari.

Learn more about Pascale and Proctor Talent Services at

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