No Job Description? No Go for Recruiting

In legally dangerous territory of recruiting, there are a lot of potential mistakes. But the biggest mistake is setting out without a clear picture of what you are looking for.

Good Applicants Steer Clear

First of all, think from the point of view of the applicants. They are trying to figure out what you are looking for and if it’s a good fit for them. If your description of the position is vague, two things happen:

  1. The really good candidates steer clear—they can tell you don’t have it together, and they pass on by.
  2. Unqualified candidates will line up in droves—with a vague description, almost all candidates can convince themselves that they are qualified.

You’ve lost the game even before you start: Your pool of candidates doesn’t even include the best prospects, and it’s full of unqualified people that you’ll have to wade through.

Evaluations Are Meaningless

Then you start the evaluation process, comparing candidates to pick those to move along in the recruiting process.

But with no clear picture of what you need, you’re really just guessing. Your evaluations are essentially meaningless. But, OK, eventually you get a list of finalists to interview.

Unfortunately, when you don’t know what you are looking for, your interview will devolve into chitchat, small talk, and general beating-about-the-bush. You’ll make some decisions about candidates, but based on what? Probably personality and likeability. (Were those the discrimination bells ringing?)

Eventually, you’ll make a job offer. What’s the likelihood that you’ll end up with a well-qualified hire? Not high.

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Bottom Line—Start with a Job Description

Let’s go back to those applicants. If you’ve used a well-written job description to prepare recruiting materials—that is, the information you post or print or share with recruiters to advertise the job—applicants can make a meaningful self-screening.

The better candidates will eagerly apply when they see a believable job description that matches their expertise and desires.

Will unqualified candidates still apply? Sure, but most will screen themselves out, and the ones that do apply won’t be angry or surprised when they don’t advance to the next round—they’ll know it was a long shot.

Then comes the selection of candidates to interview. From the job description you prepare a clear list of the skills, abilities, and attributes you need. It’s easy to screen candidates against that.

Is it time to interview? Actually, before you interview, ask yourself, is an interview the best way to find out what we need to know about these candidates? Here’s what one employer found out.

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A Cautionary Tale

At one publisher we know, the person in charge of hiring writers would always start by interviewing them. Then the best candidates would be invited to take a writing test. It was often a disappointment, after a great interview, to discover that the candidate couldn’t write. Then the publishing company had a bright idea—do the writing test first. What they discovered was interesting; once they saw that the candidate could write, who cared how well he or she interviewed? They had a writer!

In tomorrow’s Advisor, how to use the job description to prepare for a meaningful interview, and an introduction to a unique collection of job description samples that simplifies your work dramatically.

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