It’s not enough to just have a written job description in hand before embarking upon your search for the right candidate to fill it.  That job description has to be thoroughly analyzed by everyone in the company whose daily work lives will be affected by the person who carries out the duties contained in that description.  There are three reasons why this needs to be done: 1.) the employee altered the job description, 2.) the company altered the job description, or 3.) both parties altered it.

  1. The employee alters the job description—Every person has unique talents and abilities.  As a result, when they apply these talents and abilities to their job, it invariably alters the job description to varying degrees . . . hopefully for the better.  This is especially the case the longer the person has worked in that position.  So the job description that you’re using when they leave the company should definitely not be the one that existed when they arrived.
  2. The company alters the job description—Was the employee asked to assume additional responsibilities during their tenure, perhaps due to the fact that another employee left and their tasks had to be assimilated by the existing staff?  If that’s the case, you might have a “hybrid” job description, which means you’re looking for a candidate who could conceivably not exist—if you rely on the job description as the previous employee left it.
  3. Both parties alter the job description.  This, of course, is if a combination of the two scenarios above, which can lead to even more complexity. 

You can see why the job description must be adequately addressed and analyzed before the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process begins.  If it’s been altered—by either the employee, the company, or both—then the dynamics of the position have changed, and that could impact not only the new hire and their success in the position, but also everybody who interacts and works with that person.  Find out exactly what the job description should contain and you’ll find exactly what you need in your new employee.