A Job Description for the President of the United States

Have you ever seen a list of requirements and qualifications to become President? Neither have I. 

Photo by Srikanta H. U on Unsplash

Well, that’s not exactly true, I have seen the list of qualifications for attaining the U.S. Presidency, but, being that it’s only three items long, it’s no surprise that some of us may have missed it or consider it an afterthought. 

Here are the qualifications for becoming President of the United States, as outlined by the U.S. Constitution:

  1. The President must be 35 years of age.
  2. The President must be a natural born citizen.
  3. The President must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

There you have it. According to the law of the land, there are the only 3 barriers of entry into holding one of the most important positions in the free world — and none of them have anything to do with one’s ability to actually perform, satisfactorily, the role of President of the United States. 

If you peruse the “Executive Branch” page on the White House website, you’ll find a partial list of the President’s responsibilities, which include acting as Commander and Chief of the armed forces, enforcing Congressional laws, and appointing the heads of more than 50 independent federal commissions such as the SEC and Federal Reserve Board. Let’s not forget one of the most important and controversial of the President’s duties: the appointment of Supreme Court Justices when a vacancy exists. 

In a nutshell, the President is the Chief of Operations for the entire country. I don’t think there’s any doubt that such a role is important and immeasurably difficult, so why don’t we require more in the way of experience for our supreme leader? 

Over the course of my career in human resources and recruitment, I’ve hired and created job descriptions for doctors, nurses, software engineers, C-level executives, and everything in between. Without one ounce of hesitation, I can say that every one of those roles require more demonstrable experience than is required of the President of the United States. 

What a mind blowing reality we live in.

There is no fathomable reason why this is the case. Perhaps the administration balks at creating a real live job description for this illustrious position because they want to keep to the spirit that any eager bootstrapper is perfectly capable of running the country. History has taught us over and over again that anyone —  from lawyers (most common) to farmers (also very common) to career politicians to actors can assume the highest office in the world, but that doesn’t mean that it’s sensible to continue eschewing the value of actual related experience in assessing a Presidential candidate’s fitness for the job. 

If you don’t know what you’re looking for in a candidate, how do you find the right one?

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

The answer is, you won’t. Even the best hiring team depends on a list of requirements to hire intelligently, and a job description — which distills a broad spectrum of duties and competencies into a detailed checklist of expectations, desired outcomes, role scope, and hard and soft experience requirements — is the bedrock of hiring for any and every role in the world — except one. 

But what if there were a job description in place for the President of the United States? What would it look like? 

I took a stab at creating one, and I think it would look a little something like this:

President of the United States

Location: Washington D.C.

The President of the United States is responsible for running all key functions of the United States government. Among other things, the President vets and appoints all senior governmental leadership, enforces Congressional laws, ensures national security, spearheads all U.S. foreign policy discussion, negotiations, and implementations, and serves as a model of patriotism, tolerance, respect for not only the country, but the entire world. 


*10–20 years progressive experience in law, politics, business, agriculture, armed forces, or similar

*10–20 years experience in management with demonstrated ability to lead, cultivate, hire, and train exceptional teams with demonstrated capacity to meet or exceed expected outcomes

*Demonstrated experience in communicating clearly and effectively across all levels of seniority

*Experience working, communicating with, and empathizing with various diverse racial, cultural, religious, and socioeconomic groups

*Experience providing community service at a large scale or running an organization focused on community service initiatives

*Exceptional public speaking skills and the ability to speak clearly, coherently, and respectfully to all audiences

*Understanding of global foreign policy and demonstrated ability to foster favorable outcomes in collaborating with foreign entities in high stress situations

*Ability to create and enforce federal policy, law, and directives which benefit the macro-level interests of diverse socioeconomic, racial, religious, and cultural groups without infringing on the rights of any of those groups

*Demonstrable experience facing difficult, high stress situations with shrewdness and decorum 

*Deep understanding of existing U.S. laws, legacies, and policies

*Must not harbor any ties to any corporate entities that might influence the course of Presidential policy and behavior

*Must have clean background check, with no open, ongoing, repeated, or past charges, prosecutions, or inquiries related to past or present indiscretions or crimes

This is in no way exhaustive, and like most job descriptions, it can change over time in response to the myriad nuances of a position as dynamic and complex as this. In the event we one day employ some semblance of order to the process by which we allow men and women to run for election to a position of this echelon, perhaps this job description, or something like it, could offer a great place to start.

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