Recently, there have been many articles in LinkedIn and other media about recruiting, good and bad recruiters, recruiting industry etc.
In my long & successful software engineering career, I have worked with many recruiters, and have personally recruited many of my team members, as well as mentored my team of directors and managers in hiring. Experience tells me there is one fundamental requirement to successful recruiting: a precise job description. Even the best recruiter can’t effect a great outcome if the job description is not rigorous.
Unless the job is an entry level job, where the educational qualifications and demonstrated self- motivation are probably the only things one has to worry about, all jobs which require experience must have a good description. An experienced team member is expected to hit the ground running.
At a minimum, the job description should include the expectations for the job, skill set, educational qualification, and prior experience. Typical elements of a job description will include the following:
- Summary of the open position: High-level requirements, such as software development or QA or architecture, the specific area in the company etc.
- Primary responsibility: Specific needs of the job. Example are: creating the front end; performance tuning of the database etc.
- Education, Skills, and experience required: Minimum educational qualification such as bachelor’s degree in statistics, computer science, mathematics etc., along with specific skill sets and level of experience such as 3 years of python/5 years architecting SaaS systems etc.
- Personal attributes: Any must have “soft’ skills you expect the candidate to have. Typical expectations are demonstrated leadership, team work, communication skills etc. This is where you can reinforce the company culture you expect the new hire will embrace.
- Description of the company, team, and benefits: Any company with a good web presence would refer the recruiter/candidate to its career web page.
It is not sufficient to hand over the job description to the recruiter and expect miracles. If the recruiter is new to the company, or the specific area of hiring, it is important to take some time to walk through the job description. This allows the recruiters to ask clarifying questions, and tailor their searches. If the hiring manager is new to her job, it is important they have some basic training or mentoring on how to hire good team members, how to make a job description precise and exciting. Some times it takes a few unqualified resumes to illustrate what is important to a hiring manager.
Total Compensation expectations must be set and communicated to the recruiter. Everyone wants to hire a star, but not everyone can afford the compensation expected by such individuals. There may be times when you can justify the compensation of a star, depending on how desperate you are to fill a position, but by and large you have a budget to work with, and while you may limit the pool of available candidates by specifying a compensation range, you avoid going through a lot of work only to find out the candidate is not within your compensation range.
The best recruiters I have worked with always ask clarifying questions after reviewing the job description. They want to make sure they will not waste your time (or theirs) chasing after candidates who are not good matches. When they send you the resume of a candidate, they explain why they chose that candidate for the position when the resume doesn’t quite look like a great match. They ask for feedback on their performance and try to do better the next time with the learning.
Success in recruiting begins with a meticulous job description from the hiring manager. A good recruiter can then produce excellent results for her clients. Collaboration is the name of the game in talent acquisition!
A few good articles to read on the subject of responsibility of the hiring manager:
- Make The Hiring Manager Your Recruiting Partner
- 5 Ways Hiring Managers Fall Short on (Working With) Recruiting
On the importance of hiring manager’s role:
A 10-Step Recruiting Primer for Hiring Managers
This post first appeared in LinkedIn on January 20, 2017.