Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Let's Go Find The Wrong Person!

Obviously companies do not intentionally, knowingly set out to find the wrong person to fill a job.  On the other hand, if they do not seriously create meaningful job descriptions, this is the path they are on.

Several months ago we discussed that every company has a Recruitment Strategy whether they are aware of it or not.  Some Recruitment Strategies are very simple – “Just Recruit”.  Obviously those strategies make it difficult to improve because there are no processes defined. 

This series of recruitment process improvement articles continues with the most important fundamental of the Recruitment Process – the Job Description.  As the foundation of the Recruitment Process, the Job Description determines:

1)      The Sourcing Process;

2)      The Interviewing Process;

3)      The Selection Process;

4)      The Offer Process;

5)      The Final Candidate Due Diligence;

6)      And will positively impact the first year’s retention. 

The job description is that important.

How many times have you read job descriptions and wondered really what the person was going to do on the job?  In my almost 32 years of recruitment experience, I have seen executives require that job descriptions intentionally be vaguely written so it gives them the most latitude in selecting the person they want to hire.  I have worked with hiring managers who did not want to give important details because “I need flexibility” in selecting the right candidate.  One of those managers selected a candidate that I suggested may not be the best fit.  Six months later, they came to me and told me “Your candidate is not working out.”  I reminded them that we discussed the person prior to the offer.  If we had truly specified the responsibilities and goals for the position prior to beginning the recruitment process, the candidate/employee probably would not have been among those selected for interviews.

Additionally candidates express frustration when job descriptions are vague.  As a result, many times companies and recruiting firms receive many more unqualified candidates replying to their vague postings.  Candidates feel that “maybe I am a fit for this job” and then apply.  How much time does these unwanted responses cost your recruiting team?  All of these unqualified responses take time from considering candidates who may have the right experience but not in your company’s search terms (and that is the difficulty of allowing the applicant tracking system to “screen out” candidates).  Consider that it is fine for candidates to decide not to apply if the job is not one that truly interests them or they determine they are not qualified.  Why attract candidates that you have no desire to hire?

What is the best way to structure a job description?  Since the person will report to a manager, isn’t it best to train and guide the hiring manager how to create an effective job description?  Some positions like call center and production line positions may be cookie cutter job descriptions.  Just ensure they are up to date to cover new technologies or processes that may have been introduced.

Obviously what should be the easiest task is to list the day to day duties for the position.  Then list any special project responsibilities, for instance people who work for the Sundance Institute probably have additional duties during the 10 days of the Sundance Film Festival.  Determine any strategic planning or implementations the position is responsible and list them.  What management responsibilities are included in this position?  Are budget responsibilities included?  How many people will they manage directly and indirectly?  What system of management does your company embrace – matrix or line?

Once the responsibilities are listed and verified, it is time to add the special sauce that really helps your company determine the best qualified candidate and then retain them.  Now it is time to list the 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, and 12 month goals for the position.  Once these goals are determined, the skills and experience necessary to be successful the first year become crystal clear.

It is important to ensure that the job description contains management responsibilities if the person will be a manager; and conversely that there are no management responsibilities if the person is a sole contributor.  It is important to mention that a job description does not contain all responsibilities related to the position.  Why?  Business requirements change as business conditions change.  The job description should include any physical requirements for the position.  It is also important to include EEO at the end of the job description for public posting.

At this point, your hiring manager and recruiter have a clear picture of the ideal candidate.  The recruiter and hiring manager should discuss the best method of sourcing the qualified candidates.  Hiring managers need to be active in sourcing but that is another conversation about engagement. 

Smart recruiters create a phone screen based on the job description and present it to the hiring manager for their comments and participation in the search.  Since the goals are listed, the phone screen becomes more relevant and focused.  Now the hiring manager has the needed information to create an interview that measures skills and experience plus the opportunity to probe candidate responses in the phone screen.

Why do some hiring managers dread the interviewing process?  They feel they do not have the information needed to effectively interview and select the best qualified candidate.  This is part of the value of a well-structured job description with the goals included.  Effective interviews are enormously important in determining the best qualified candidate who is also the best cultural fit.  As candidates are reviewed after the interview, the elements of the job description are the best way to determine their fit.

Companies do have a choice when they develop a job description process.  If an effective job description is not a priority in a company, the recruitment process may be “Let’s Go Find The Wrong Person!”  If the effective job description becomes a priority for a company:

1)      The candidates will be more focused;

2)      Interviews will be more focused;

3)      Selection will be focused on the best qualified candidate;

4)      And, there is a stronger likelihood of retaining the best employees.