The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

How to Hire the Right People to Help Your Institution Achieve Excellence

excellenceEvery higher education institution strives for excellence — in teaching, in research, in service, in student success. But in order to achieve excellence, an institution must have excellent strategies in place, particularly human resources strategies.

Why? Because 60+ percent of an institution’s budget is spent on humans. People are the strategic core of the institution.

In the CHRO Summit preconference workshop at the CUPA-HR Annual Conference, Barbara Carroll, associate vice chancellor and chief HR officer at Vanderbilt University, shared with attendees the importance of designing job descriptions to define the excellence we’re looking for.

According to Carroll, good position descriptions enable you to:

  • better understand the market value of a job;
  • advertise vacancies more effectively;
  • recruit better candidates;
  • interview more effectively;
  • make better hiring decisions;
  • set performance expectations more effectively; and
  • structure better professional development.

Said Carroll, “good position descriptions are outcome-oriented, unique to each position, constantly evolving and values-based.”

Additionally, good position descriptions set expectations not only for the tasks to be performed, but also the professional skills to be demonstrated, the technical knowledge to be sustained, the outcomes to be achieved and the values and behaviors to be upheld.

“It’s important to use outcome-oriented language in position descriptions,” says Carroll. “Don’t just identify the task, explain what it looks like ‘done well’ and why it needs to be done well.”

Carroll provided the following example:
Poorly written position description: “Answers departmental phones and resolves customer issues.”
Properly written job description: “Responds promptly and appropriately, exhibits warmth and courtesy. Resolves customer issues knowledgeably and helpfully, or escalates appropriately. Ensures effective departmental operations and customers who feel well served.”

Are your position descriptions designed in a way that are helping you bring the right people on board? Are they helping you attract candidates that can contribute to your organization’s excellence?

Additional Resources
How to Write a Position Description (Essentials video)
Job Classification and Evaluation Toolkit (CUPA-HR Knowledge Center)