Posted by: vallonllc | February 6, 2011

The Longitudinal Job Description

I hate job descriptions. They outline static, basic requirements for role and tend to limit expectations. In language from my union days, they encourage a “work-to-rule” mentality. Even if they are perfectly written, most job descriptions are obsolete moments after they are published.  

A client showed me another dimension to the job description two weeks ago. This company is growing quickly, adding over 30% to their workforce this year. They have big challenges and changing conditions throughout their business. Like many organizations, they are using job descriptions to understand roles and realign their workforce. 

Unlike most organizations, they are adding a longitudinal dimension to their job descriptions. The traditional job description looks at the skills and requirements needed in a particular role right now. The Longitudinal Job Description looks at those same skills and requirements a year from now as well. Traditional job descriptions do a good job of setting the roles, identifying the holes, and creating needed alignment. In addition, Longitudinal Job Descriptions do that and anticipate the future needs. 

Need a Sword Swallower...

Longitudinal Job Descriptions are more difficult to use. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what you will need next week. Now, you must anticipate what you will need a year from now. That’s two assessments instead of one and can set up a more difficult talent decision: Do I match the current talent need, or the one in the future? 

In these situations, using interim talent is a great solution. It allows you to bring in the right talent, for the right time, right now. You can match your immediate needs and still maintain your flexibility for future needs. Interim talent bridges those difficult situations where present and future needs call for very different skills. 

...or a Fire Eater?


The Longitudinal Job Descriptions can identify these critical situations – situations that remain hidden using traditional job descriptions. Heck, they could even get me to like job descriptions!








The dual assessment can highlight two problems. First, it can show where talent needs are changing and will change in the future. Second, it can show where skills are only needed for a limited amount of time. In both of these situations, making a permanent hire can have disastrous results, adding extra costs and unneeded layers. 


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