5 Proven Ways to Attract Highly Skilled Talent

Finding the best people – the most highly skilled and top performing talent – is usually a challenge for employers, but over the years, in researching how employers land great talent in our NorthCoast 99 program and various survey reports, we've learned some "tried and true" ways that they attract the best people.

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Facebook Announces Social Jobs App

In 2012 Facebook, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor and several other organizations announced the Social Jobs Partnership, a new social media-based job search tool. The Social Jobs Partnership app is a centralized database of job opportunities pulled from a number of outside job boards. At the time of launch, there were about 1.7 million jobs hosted through the app.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to On-Boarding New-Hires

Many organizations struggle to on-board and engage new employees effectively which poses challenges in setting them up for success in their new roles. As a result, we've compiled a step-by-step guide to help you successfully on-board and engage your new-hires.

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11 Tools for Recruiting Hard-to-Fill Jobs

11 Tools for Recruiting Hard-to-Fill Jobs

Recruiting for new, specialized, or highly technical positions requires a different approach than past years. Some of these jobs didn't exist 10 years ago, while others require such specialized experience or specific technical skills that older recruiting methods don't suffice. In any case, the need to find talent for these hard-to-fill jobs is forcing many employers to consider using other recruiting strategies beyond job boards and advertising.

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Job Descriptions: An Essential How-To Guide

Employers often face challenges in creating new job descriptions for positions that they do not currently employ, identifying essential job functions, and keeping job descriptions updated. For these reasons, members often request sample job descriptions from ERC and consult with us to develop or update their job descriptions.

Based on our experience and knowledge in helping organizations with job descriptions coupled with our research on job description development practices, we've developed an essential how-to guide to creating new job descriptions to equip you with tips and guidance on managing this important, but often arduous, HR responsibility.

What Sources to Use

When creating a job description for a new job, using secondary sources of job information can help you better understand a position and the typical duties a person would perform in that role. Use these cautiously, however, and validate the job description with the new position's manager before finalizing it to be sure that the job description accurately captures the true job duties. Good sources to use to develop new job descriptions include:

  • BNA Job Description Tool / Other online job description tools
  • O*Net / Job Description Writer
  • Dictionary of Occupational Job Titles
  • ERI’s position analysis tool
  • Compensation or salary survey job descriptions
  • Sample job descriptions from other organizations
  • Job postings

Who to Consult for Job Information

Job analysis should always be used to create a new job description. Interviews, questionnaires, and/or observation techniques can be used to gather information about job tasks and duties, determine the most essential functions of the job, evaluate the abilities needed to perform the work, and uncover the qualifications or background necessary to complete the job duties. Common techniques include (in order of most used):

  • Interview/meeting with supervisor of job incumbent
  • Interview with job incumbent or past incumbents (typically high or average performers)
  • Observe job incumbents working on tasks
  • Ask supervisor and/or job incumbents to complete a questionnaire (i.e. PAQ)
  • Interview with subject matter expert(s)

The job incumbent or manager should not write the job description. Rather, a trained HR professional should. You can, however, gather important information from these individuals about the job, such as:

  • Purpose of the job
  • Basic functions and duties
  • Responsibilities related to supervision (number of employees supervised)
  • Level of discretion/authority
  • People with whom the position interacts and level of interaction
  • Amount and type of physical exertion
  • Abilities (mathematical, verbal, etc.)
  • Minimum educational or technical qualifications (diplomas, degrees, certifications, etc.)
  • Minimum experience required to perform duties
  • Exposure to certain work conditions

What Information to Include in a Job Description

At a minimum, job descriptions should include the job title, key duties and responsibilities, a job purpose summary, required job knowledge or skills, requisite physical and cognitive abilities, required educational level or certification(s), minimum qualifications/ competencies, preferred qualifications/competencies, reporting relationship, indication of essential duties, "other duties as assigned," and creation/revision dates.

Information about work conditions/environment, FLSA exemption status, and location of work are also somewhat commonly included in job descriptions.

Job descriptions should not include instructions or recommendations about how to do the job, performance expectations or standards, occasional or temporary job duties that are non-essential, future job duties, and generalized statements. Job descriptions also should not contain a laundry list of job duties, but rather should reflect the position's priorities.

How to Identify Essential Functions

One of the most important things employers must do when developing job descriptions is to identify and delineate the essential functions of the job.  

An essential function must be an important task that only the person in the job can do. In other words, the duty would be a hardship for another person to handle. An essential job function is not necessarily a duty that takes up the largest percentage of an employee's time, nor can it be automatically considered an essential function across similar jobs. 

There are a number of strategies organizations use to determine essential functions, including asking the job incumbent's manager, observing employees doing tasks, conducting a thorough job analysis, and reviewing core duties and most critical job tasks.

How to Write Job Descriptions

Job descriptions should be written using clear and very specific language. Each duty or task should begin with an action verb in the present tense (i.e. supervise, create, analyze, administer, etc.) and imprecise words should be limited (i.e. assists, handles, etc.). In addition, no references to race, gender, disability, or other protected classes should be included in the document. Similarly, avoid jargon and spell out acronyms.

How Often to Update Job Descriptions

Ideally, job descriptions should be "living documents" which are evaluated annually because it's not uncommon for job descriptions to grow outdated or need minor adjustments each year. Nonetheless, the majority of employers re-look at job descriptions only when a position becomes available, when there is a change in the duties of a position, and when there is a significant change in the organization.

Be aware that if job descriptions are not updated on a regular basis, you risk running into trouble with regulatory requirements like complying with ADA, as the courts frequently revisit employers' job descriptions to determine if employees are capable of performing certain job duties and whether those duties are essential.

Job descriptions are generally regarded as legal documents, necessary for maintaining compliance with ADA, FLSA, FMLA and other employment laws in addition to aiding the recruiting and hiring process, helping managers evaluate performance and set performance criteria or goals, determining compensation or grade level, and helping to identify training needs. For these reasons and more, be sure that your job descriptions are created and written accurately and updated on a regular basis.

Additional Resources

Job Description Resources

ERC offers numerous resources to help employers create and update job descriptions through Membership including salary surveys, a job description tool, and sample job descriptions. ERC members can contact hrhelp@yourerc.com to access these resources.

Job Description Services

ERC can help create job descriptions as well as facilitate job description updates. For more information about our services, please contact hrhelp@yourerc.com.

Hiring Rates Improving In Utility Industries

The July 2012 BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey reports that hire rates for the month of May saw little change when compared to the same statistic from 2011. However, one notable exception can be found in the area of Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities. This group of sub-industries experienced a 1.1% hiring rate increase over May 2011 with a 3.7% of all hires made in May 2012 falling into this industry breakout- approximately 180,000 individuals hired throughout the month.

While this industry is traditionally paid lower than many other hourly positions, a jump in hiring could reflect an increased demand for some of these more physically demanding jobs in the private sector. Reporting hourly wage data from the second half of January 2012, the 2012 ERC Wage Survey did in fact see a modest increase in pay for a number of these positions. For example, a Warehouse Worker earned a median salary $13.68, which is up about 12% from the 2011 survey results. Other positions, such as Drivers (Heavy: $16.25 and Local: $16.80) and Fork Lift Operators ($15.00) saw slightly lower improvements in wages, but do appear to be trending consistently upwards over the past several years.

View ERC's Wage & Salary Adjustment Survey Results

The survey reports data from Northeast Ohio organizations regarding their actual and projected wage and salary adjustments.

View the Results

Employers Retention Challenges

As the U.S. economy continues to improve and employers begin to add employees to their payrolls, another employment metric is also increasing, i.e. voluntary turnover. For employees, a stronger economy often means they feel more confident leaving a job of their own accord. However, from an employer’s perspective an increased separation rate means they are going to need to work harder to retain existing employees as the job market improves.

As a national trend, increased voluntary turnover is moving steadily upward with a 2012 report from PriceWaterhouse Coopers documenting a 1.2% increase from 2010 to 2011, up to 8.2% (2011/2012 US Human Capital Effectiveness Report). In Northeast Ohio, the voluntary turnover rate hit double digits in 2011, with the 2012 ERC Turnover and HR Department Practices reporting an average of 12% across all industries and organizational sizes.

However, notable discrepancies in these rates are apparent when comparing manufacturers to non-manufacturers. At 9.6% manufacturers seem to have more success at retaining existing employees than their non-manufacturing counterparts who are seeing a much higher 16.7% voluntary turnover rate for 2011.

In terms of the role of HR, bringing this rate back down, may mean considering a redirection of HR funds away from Recruiting/Hiring and into areas like Training & Development or Benefits. By allocating an average of 23.1% of their total HR budget to Recruiting/Hiring, by far the highest percent allocation reported in the survey, non-manufacturers may actually be contributing to the trend towards higher turnover.

With such a strong focus on recruiting, these organizations may be missing out on opportunities to develop and incent their own existing employees.

Employers Eager to Hire Interns and Recent Graduates

The results of the 2012 Intern & Recent Grad Pay Rates & Practices Survey, conducted by ERC and NOCHE, showed that an overwhelming majority (83%) of 117 participating Northeast Ohio employers were either maintaining or increasing their internship programs, while almost two-thirds (64%) were in the process of hiring or planning to hire new graduates for positions in their organizations. These organizations look for candidates with relevant majors in their field, high levels of professionalism, strong interpersonal and communication skills, and past work or internship/co-op experience.

Recruitment Trends

Despite a strong online recruiting presence, organizations are primarily using job boards/websites focused on interns or recent graduates to pursue candidates, social media remains low on the list of recruitment methods at for both interns and recent graduates. Interestingly, 2012's survey does mark a small increase in social media recruitment for recent graduates from the preceding years, up 9% from 20% in 2011. However, when compared to more traditional recruitment methods such as job postings on college career center websites or relationships with professors, social media recruitment methods appear to remain a largely untapped recruitment resource. This trend suggests that for tech savvy Millenials searching for an internship or first job, LinkedIn or Facebook may not be the most effective platform through which to reach potential employers.

Benefits of Interns & Recent Graduates

While the overall lack of interest in social media recruiting is consistent with trends in the world of Human Resources, it sits in stark contrast to one of the top emerging benefits of hiring interns and recent graduates, i.e. familiarity with the latest technological advances. Both groups continue to be seen as a key element for injecting organizations with fresh, innovative ideas, particularly in the realm of technology.

Employers commonly express a high level of confidence in the expertise of interns and recent graduates as employees. By coupling this high skill level with a strong financial incentive to hire from within these groups, pursuing interns and recent graduates as future employees is largely viewed as a positive investment in an organization’s future. 

The 2012 survey also reports average starting salaries for recent graduates, which vary significantly depending on the type of degree. Similar to the 2011 data, an engineering degree showed the highest average starting salary for a Bachelors degree.

Average starting salaries for college degrees

Degree Obtained

Average Starting Salary

Masters, Business Administration

$62,500

Bachelors, Engineering

$51,455

Bachelors, Computer Science

$50,000

Bachelors, Finance

$45,750

Bachelors, Information Technology

$44,000

Bachelors, Chemistry

$39,833

Associates, Information Technologies

$37,000

Bachelors, Accounting

$36,912

Bachelors, Business Administration

$35,880

Bachelors, Marketing

$34,687

Associates, Business/Marketing

$31,093

View the Intern & Recent Graduate Pay Rates & Practices Survey

This survey reports data from Northeast Ohio employers about their internship and recent graduate employment and pay practices.

View the Results

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