What If You Approached A Job Description Like An RFP?

Let me back up a second for those of you that don’t know what an RFP is. It’s a “Request For Proposal.” Very simple, Company A has a problem they want to outsource to another organization. An RFP can cover anything from building a highway infrastructure to marketing their product. The document is a high-level summary of the following:

  • What “Company A” wants from potential “Company B.”
    • Scope of the project
    • Specifics around requirements
    • Expectations for completion
  • That they’re looking and the process is competitive.
  • Defines the requirements for how and what to submit to be part of the consideration.
  • The evaluation and selection procedure

Does this look at all familiar? Take the job description and application process down to its simplest of concepts, and you’ll see that an employer is just asking for a responding proposal to their request to solve a problem. They’re asking if you’d be interested in “loaning” your future time to help them with an initiative that’s important for them to complete.

If that’s what you’re doing – loaning your future time – then shouldn’t you approach a job description in the same way? I did some research for you. After several hours of googling, “How to respond to an RFP?” every single expert suggested focusing on price and features alone was a bad idea.

And what does the dreaded resume highlight? So no, price (or your salary requirements) are rarely included. But how many of you have been kicked out of the process because they perceive you as “too expensive?” However, it does highlight your features. What it never does, and I think this is a missed opportunity, is clearly demonstrate how you could solve problems for the hiring manager in the future. Resumes show what you’ve DONE rather than what you can DO. A hiring manager has to guess who the Future You could be. Terrible. 

I know I’ve talked about it before. Job descriptions and resumes are both terrible tools and need re-inventing. I also know we can’t change things overnight, but I think we can start shifting the process.

And it starts with recognizing that a job description should look more like an RFP. HR teams, hiring managers, and organizations can begin that adventure. For those of you on the job hunt, while we’re waiting for job descriptions to be re-invented, what can you do? 

Approach a job description as an RFP.

Do your research – put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. Why did they write the job description, to begin with?

  • Need: Why do you think they’re hiring for this role now? 
    • Is the position a new area of expertise, or are they replicating (they need more of a function that exists) or replacing (the person in the role is leaving/getting promoted)?
    • Is the company going through a change – growth, transformation – that would require new areas of thinking?
  • Budget: What kind of budget do you think they might have for this role? A quick search online can give you some estimates, but while salary ranges for established companies might be consistent for startups, they’re all over the map. When you consider your affordability factor in approaching a role, you’ll see the need to adjust your approach. Remember, while the current process only talks about features, people hire based on future VALUE every single time. 
  • Choice: Does the person reading your submission have a say in the decision? Moreover, who are ALL the decision-makers? The last time I interviewed for a job, I met seven different people covering seven different functional areas. Only one of them was my future boss, but they all had input into if I would be the one. They each prioritized different things because they needed different things from me. 
  • Simplicity: How can you make it easy for them to say yes? I’m not going to expand as much on this one as I see SOOO much room for improvement here. Tip – “Easy for them” is not clicking the apply button and submitting your resume. You’re smarter than you think. Take the time to think about this.

If you’re a hiring manager, what other ideas would you include? What’s your wish list. Please drop us a note; we’re creating a plan. 

I know it feels like the hiring team has all the power and determines how everything will work from posting the role to your start date. And I have no doubt some of you are reading this and thinking, “Really? I need to do more?”. Yes, I’m afraid so.

The good news is we work in a double-sided marketplace. You get to choose if you want to take the job as much as an organization gets to offer it to you. And I want you to choose you. The clearer you are in sharing the Future You’s value, the easier it is for you to GET the role made just for you. 

If we go back to the beginning, the moment the hiring manager writes the job description, they’re hoping for the perfect fit. A perfect role made just for you.