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Looking to staff up? Check out our resources below to succeed in one of the most important responsibilities you have to your organization -- hiring the best person for an open job.
Writing your own job description? Start here.
How to figure out the details of the what type of candidate you're looking for.
Writing an accurate and clear job description is your first step. Before putting pen to paper (or, fingers to keyboard) it is important that you take some time to think through both what kind of person you are looking for and what exactly they will be doing.
Thinking through the type of person (or, more accurately, personality type) you would like for the position is a crucial step in the hiring process.
It can often be more important to find someone with natural abilities one way or another to whom you can teach facts, history, and process than to hire someone who has a background in your specific area but isn’t a good personality fit.
Remember that you can always teach a person facts, but you can’t teach an introvert to be an extrovert.
A second important consideration when figuring out your desired personality type is to look at the person with whom the interviewee will be working most closely. If you are hiring an assistant for yourself, think about what drives you crazy. Is it someone who keeps messy files or is it someone who is a wallflower? Do you prefer someone to mimic your style, or who compliments it by being different? There is no right answer -- only what you prefer.
Putting a paragraph about the personality type you are looking for can be a very helpful way to narrow down the number of applicants and ensure that your applicant pool more closely reflects the qualities you are looking for, thus saving you valuable time.
In addition, thinking through these questions will help you understand exactly what you are looking for and help you narrow your focus once you start interviewing. It will also help you start to shape what questions you’ll be asking interviewees.
Tasks and Responsibilities
It is important to be as accurate as possible when describing the various tasks and projects for which a new hire will be responsible. You want to ensure that only those individuals who are willing and able to take on those particular tasks apply.
Be specific in the tasks. If you are hiring a Finance Assistant, don’t just list "various finance-related tasks." Rather, list things like: "Conduct donor research" "Prepare Accurate Call Sheets for Candidate" "Monitor incoming contributions" "Keep accurate notes and records in NGP."
Be clear about any expectations that are included in each task. If one of the major responsibilities will be to maintain the filing system, be clear that they will be responsible for maintaining the filing system in an up-to-date, orderly, and user-friendly manner. If they will be responsible for direct voter contact, be clear that they will be expected to reach daily, weekly and monthly goals.
If the person will be responsible for managing a team, be clear about the number of people serving under them. If it is unknown, or the person will be responsible for hiring their whole team, list that in the description.
It can also be important to note whether or not a person will be working mostly independently, or primarily collaborating in a team. On that note, being able to say whether a person will be in a satellite office by themselves, or in the middle of a bustling open floor plan can also be helpful.
People like to know what they are getting themselves involved in. And, again, being as clear as possible will help weed-out the good fits from the bad fits before they even cross your inbox. While it’s better to have too many good applicants than too few, it can also be very frustrating to spend a good deal of your time weeding through countless resumes of unqualified or ill-fitting individuals. Or, worse yet, spending valuable time conducting phone interviews with introverts, only to discover that you need an extrovert who can multitask.
NOTE: If the new hire will be working with a team, it can also be helpful to take an hour to sit down together to discuss what type of person the overall team is looking for and what they will be doing.
Include Information about Your Organization
Something that is often overlooked when creating a job description is to tell the prospective applicant about your organization. Even a paragraph with your mission statement can help drive up the number of qualified applicants who may not have been familiar with your group, but who are now interested in joining your team.
The Management Center has created some great tools in their book "Managing to Change the World" that are very helpful in thinking through putting together a job description and identifying exactly what kind of person will be the best fit.
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