Twice in the past six months I have given exceptional candidates a blank page on which to write their ideal job description. In both cases, I've ultimately hired these people and have enjoyed their enthusiasm with the open-ended process. So, why the blank page? Well, for starters I'm more interested in who they are than what they can do right now. Handing over a blank piece of paper as part of an offer is my way of saying "I want you to make a career with my team and I believe 100% in your raw talent".
I know that the right people will contribute in ways that no job description can capture, so why limit the scope of their mandate initially?
Obviously, this approach would not work for specialized or highly technical positions. But, if you're trying to build a great company and you need utility contributors and true leaders, then the blank page approach might work well for you. Think about it...How empowering would it be to receive the opportunity to specify the job of your dreams with the ability to focus your work on the things you enjoy the most in life?
Although the approach may seem fraught with potential for misalignment, the risk of that is quite low for several reasons:
1. The offer is made to special candidates that I believe have the potential for a long-term successful career with our organization.By the time the offer is extended, I know enough about them to feel confident their career goals will align reasonably well with our company needs.
2. The right candidates will always find a way to contribute initially . . . but it's not about filling today's specific needs . . . it's about building an exceptional team that can help build an amazing company for our customers and employees to enjoy.
We don't differentiate our career opportunities on pay. We differentiate our career opportunities and related job offers on our culture and our willingness to give talented people the ability to contribute in ways they might not enjoy elsewhere. In short, we provide great people with the freedom to contribute as they see fit.