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The five legged dog approach - failure in writing job descriptions

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By brett. Tagged Training and Advert Writing

3 tips for hiring managers to make their recruitment life easier when writing job adverts

Over the last 20 years I have seen some extremely rich job descriptions with an absolutely incredible amount of detail, specialisms and expectation. 90% of the shopping list type jobs that get sent to the hiring teams are just outrageously unrealistic, but yet recruiters pick up the job description and try to make do.  There are many reasons why hiring managers tend to list everything that they want to find, as it will help the recruiters or HR team tune in on the skills, but this becomes an unnecessary evil - it complicates the search process and makes it unachieveable.

So what is the best approach to writing a job that is attractive but still lets you screen candidates? Here are 3 tips that help when you are putting pen to paper!

1. Supply or Demand

First off you need to know the candidate market, is there a lack or over-supply of candidates in the skill base that you are hiring.  If you are hiring for technology skills in an emerging market you will most likely be looking at a small resource pool and its going to be very hard to find all of the skills that you need. If you are in oversupply - you can be picky, if you are in demand market you need to be more flexible and realistic to attract those who are entering the talent pool.

2. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify - dont list everything - focus on 3 core skills

Is it really needed that the person you will hire knows everything? Top performers or top hires pick things up incredibly fast, they learn they adapt and they are intuitive to grasp ideas and concepts.  Core skills are transferable. Fact. So focus on writing jobs that focus on core skills - not what the person has learned. Learning is easy for those who have mastered the ability to learn. Learning is a core skill but vastly overlooked. Dont list too much. 250 words is more than enough to tempt a person to inquire about the job. Too much information makes the candidate feel the job is unrealistic and also less likely to be a fit. Make a job description simple, enough to entice but not too much to let the audience judge and turn it down

3 Avoid 10 years of X please

The time to learn a subject is incredibly subjective and varies from the candidate's exposure, company experience and aptitude /capacity to learn. Yes you need to assume what a person can learn in a period of time, but be objective when writing a job advert - state what you need to do in the projects and the reason you are hiring but validate experience by making it clear that the candidate must be able to take on particular tasks. Give examples of what exciting things you will do in the job - and what type of background will be helpful to take on these types of tasks.

Yes, this may sound simple, but not everyone spends the time to make the job description powerful. Less is best!

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