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December 9, 2002 03:30 PM

Categories: Human Resources

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ron thornton

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Joined: 12/09/2002

I am consulting with a small software that needs to hire a ceo and cto. Where can I find comprehensive job descriptions? Thanks.
Ron Thornton

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-10 of 10 | Latest Comment

December 9, 2002 5:18 PM

Well, there are about about 31,000 flavors of each (especially CEOs), and you'll never find a "perfect" job descrip that you'll be able to use straight out of the box.

E.g., in some software startups, the CEO must have international experience; in others not. Does s/he need to understand channels? Enterprise sales? Internet sales? Hustling VCs? Managing an IPO? And on and on and on.

Ditto the CTO: Is s/he a glorified sysadmin, or do you need someone to conceive and design and architect and manage the delivery of earth-shaking new technology? Do you need someone who can manage programmers, or a pure visionary?

A site called HRNext offers a bunch of job descriptions, but they're all over the map (chauffeur, golf club manager, etc.), and I've never used them.

Personally, I'd try to steal/borrow from those I'd admire. Call up some software companies who are doing a great job, and ask if they'd let you see theirs.

Second, I'd hit Google. Just type in "cto job description," and you'll get a slew of samples from existing companies -- you're bound to find lots worth plagiarizing.

December 9, 2002 5:57 PM

The job boards (Monster, HotJobs, etc.) often have job descriptions for the positions that companies are trying to fill.

Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.

December 22, 2002 11:52 PM

The longest job descriptions occur in institutionalized companies. These long job descriptions are just a backstop against litigation.

Doing what the big companies do, just means that you are willing to waste your money to look like a big company, or to work through all the market barriers that the big companies erect.

If you know what you need in a CEO and CTO, then just write that down, and be prepared to interview for that. Don't expect candidates or recruters to self-select themselves out of an opportunity. You will have to screen the resumes of the candidates. Your criteria will evolve during the process. If you have every little aspect down on paper, you won't be able to service what you learn during the process.

The funnel need to be very wide and get narrower through the process. Job descriptions are just the wide part of the funnel.

David Locke

December 23, 2002 1:00 AM

Doing what the big companies do, just means that you are willing to waste your money to look like a big company, or to work through all the market barriers that the big companies erect.

This is reactionary nonsense, imho -- it assumes that all big companies are wastrels and wastelands, and that simply is not true.

Second, you're missing the primary point about job descriptions: they help a company define the question: i.e., what should our CEO/CTO "look" like? What do we need? What do we not need?

Now, if any company treats a job description like an ad for a used car, and expects to fill/sell the position based on that, then yes, they're sorely miguided.

But the original poster was, I believe, asking for advice about what skills/traits/strengths he should look for at his startup company -- and in that regard, composing a job description is an entirely valid and worthwhile exercise.

December 23, 2002 1:48 AM

Well, I didn't say large companies are wasteful or anything like that, you did.

What I am saying is that software startups are different from post-IPO software startups and market leading software vendors. Just like software vendors are different from B2C or B2B dot coms.

A software startup needs an entrepreneur. If they have that, then they need the business person. But, if they go and get themselves a CEO that is into operational excellence, which is what works for market leaders and post-IPO firms, they will kill their startup. They need to be very careful about recognizing the differences in companies. They need to recognize that they are in a very different stance relative to their markets than these other companies.

Beyond that, there are market barriers erected by market leaders which set expectations very high and cause startups to consume their resources to meet those expectations. Doing what these companies do, will consume a lot of financial resources. That usually isn't something a startup can afford to do.

I don't disagree with you that I should write down what I'm looking for. But, in my experience, I did that and found that I had to learn a few things before I could get the right candidate, because the written description is only a starting point. If it becomes a filter, you won't learn.

In larger companies, you write a job description and you are legally stuck with the person that fits the description not the need. Companies with incredibly specific job descriptions use them to protect themselves against lawsuits. So you are expected to learn after the fact--after you have to terminate that person.

David Locke

December 23, 2002 11:28 AM

I don't disagree with you that I should write down what I'm looking for.

Okay -- then what are we arguing about? I forget. :)

But, in my experience, I did that and found that I had to learn a few things before I could get the right candidate, because the written description is only a starting point.

Exactly -- which is all the more reason to a) make the creation of the job description a community effort, and b) write it down, so that you have some reference as to what works and what doesn't.

If it becomes a filter, you won't learn.

Squeeze me? Are you saying we should accept all comers, because only once they're inside will we learn? No, of course not.

Whether you have a written job description or not, we all use "filters" to employ people: some are performance-related, some are personality-related, some are compensation-related, etc. etc. etc.

It would of course be silly (and wrong) to erect irrelevant filters: based on age, race, religion, height, weight, etc.. And if you're a two-person company you are probably looking for a different type of CEO than Scott McNealy or Bill Gates (but then again, maybe not).

Still, all the companies that have gone before you -- big and small -- have something to teach. Some are good examples, some bad. The point of plagiarism -- and the reason for the advice Charles and I gave -- is to borrow from the best.

I don't think anyone here really thought that we were suggesting you take a job description from any other company, regardless of size, and copy it or hold it up as the Holy Grail.

There is no "perfect" job description, of course, any more than there is a perfect business plan. To say that a software startup needs an entrepreneur is tautological; what counts, and where the job description becomes useful, is in in determining what kind of entrepreneur you need/want.

E.g., do you already have a wonderful marketing/sales person? Then maybe you can reduce the emphasis on that part of the CEO's resume. Do you need a fund-raiser? Do you need someone with connections in a particular industry?

As a matter of fact, some startups do need CEOs with operational expertise, because the company is already rich with visionaries.

All I'm saying here is that it's a mistake to make assumptions about a particular need based on company size. Every situation is different, every company is different, every person is different.

So, back to my original advice: Pick the companies that you admire. Choose your mentors. See what they've done well, and try to emulate and exceed them. See where they've slipped, and try to figure out why, and avoid those areas.

December 23, 2002 11:40 AM

I think one of the great things about a writing a job description is that it forces you to think about what you are looking for. If you don't do that in advance, then you run a great risk of hiring someone because s/he interviews well, or as Barry Shamis puts it, because s/he's "enthusiastic."

I further think that looking at others' written job descriptions is a help, kind of like looking at the menu in a restaurant. "Oh, that's a good idea, s/he should have ______ skills. We hadn't thought of that." (Of course, you want to avoid enhancing the job description so much that you have a job that only Superman could fill.)

December 23, 2002 12:02 PM

Be sure to make the critical distinction between a Job Description and a Candidate Profile and develop both.

The Job Description should be what you want the person to do once they're hired (at least in general terms). Whereas the Candidate Profile should be what would a job seeker have in terms of demonstrated skills and experiences that would make them successful in the job.

The Profile is generated from the Description. From the Profile, you can generate a list of interview questions and specific background checking criteria.

February 8, 2012 8:49 PM updated: February 15, 2012 8:49 AM

Hi,

Thanks very much for this comment. It help me to think about my ideals.

Tks again and pls keep posting.

Apart from that, this link below may be useful: CEO job description

Rgs

September 19, 2012 7:52 AM

Well, there are about about 31,000 flavors of each (especially CEOs), and you'll never find a "perfect" job descrip that you'll be able to use straight out of the box.

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