A Plea to Hiring Managers

Dear Hiring Manager, I note you have a vacancy, okay, let us run through this scenario.

  1. Get the old JD out, yep dust it off, change the date, maybe a few minor alterations, hand it over to the recruiting folks in HR. Oh great, job done

Therefore, I assume HM the job has not changed in ANY way. There is no shift in emphases or focus, the job has remained statics, okay if you say so.

  1. Job Description – oh wonderful, a four pager with 30 bullets, nothing but a list of tasks upon tasks, which is brilliant. Hey Hiring Manager, I am the specialist right, then give me a job profile, don’t tell me HOW to do my job. I simply need to know the job profile (critical elements) such as interfaces, decision-making and outcomes. I promise you, I can figure the rest out when I have my bum on the seat.
  2. A Persons Specification – what am I a widget?, okay let’s have a closer look.

‘Must be proficient in Excel’ – ohh dear ohh dear ohh dear, why don’t you say ‘must be able to perform data analyses, associated reporting and presentation’, what skills do you want me to demonstrate. Able to write a ‘sum’ function or manage and present data in a clear and concise manner.

‘Excellent interpersonal skills’ – okay, what does that mean, ability to listen to you rant at me for hours on end. Maybe politely ask the Cleaner to empty my dustbin, or, perhaps write Post-it notes, maybe be nice to the Finance Director, or could it be reply to your midnight emails from my iPhone, oh don’t tell me I have to speck that special lingo when talking to those IT guys, what are the interpersonal skills in context to this job!.

‘Must have sector experience’ hey, I’m going to be working in the Post Room, WHY do I need to come from the same industry.

So Hiring Manager, you expect the candidate to have a beaming CV, highlighting achievement and key competencies, all in two pages. Yet you give me a four pager, which does not tell me much apart from how to work as a robot. You have highlighted every minor details of the job, no attempt to be clear or concise. I suspect the JD does not capture the real flavour of the job in any case.

If you are not going to excite me then why should I return the favour?

In my experience many Hiring Managers struggle writing a good JD, after all it is simply a CV from the employer’s perspective is it not and we know how tough it is to write a good CV let alone an excellent one. Far easier to dust the old one off and make some amendments and off we go.

The dynamics of the role can change even within a few months. This could be a shift in direction, emphases, priorities, interfaces, therefore, it is vital to set aside time to reflect on the role and add these elements into a job profile. Also an opportunity to add new dimensions and layers that the role may/will demand moving forward. A badly written JD can put the candidates off the role just as much as a badly presented CV to the Hiring Manager.

Often JDs will not reflect the softer skills, which are a key to the role, I’m talking personal traits here. Ability to perform a task is probably a given, but how the task is performed is the pivotal question. If the role requires banging heads together say so, maybe an ability to kick ass, then say so, reflect the dynamics in the role profile. A good profile will bring the role to life, the candidate should feel it and relate to it. Badly written JD will not give you a good fit, a bad hire is a good probability in this case. Lou Adlar wrote a short article back in 2007 – Why You Must Eliminate Job Descriptions which is still holds true.

Dear Hiring Managers, please take time to reflect on your next vacancy, don’t think de-facto JD. The time invested will pay off and you will get a candidate who can perform a role not simply conduct a bunch of tasks.

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