Common Mistakes in Recruiting: Misunderstanding the Role

To hire the right candidates, job descriptions and role expectations need to be updated often. How can you hire the right person if you don’t know what you’re looking for? 

The best way to make sure that the most talented people will never reply to your listings is to show them that you don’t know anything about the role. Social media is full of posts like these: 

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In other words, un-informed, inaccurate job listings deter the most talented professionals from even considering working with your company. In fact, 60% of candidates won’t apply to a poorly written job posting. For recruiters, the first impression starts from the moment you publish your listing, and it needs to be accurate. 

Reasons for Incorrect Job Listings and Descriptions

There are many reasons why job listings may be inaccurate, but here are the most common:

  1. Job listings are “aspirational”. In this instance, hiring managers imagine their dream candidate, with multiple advanced degrees, decades of experience, well-known brands, and sexy job titles. They also include any technologies they think may be related, or job skills that may be relevant in the future of the role. In fact, when you ask many hiring managers how much of that experience or skill is actually necessary for the role, it turns out that many of those “requirements” aren’t required at all, but it has a chilling effect on many candidates who might otherwise apply for the job. 
  2. Job listings are recycled. Rather than taking the time to re-evaluate the role, busy HR staff and managers simply re-use the job listing or description they have used in the past. The job listing that got you great candidates five years ago is expected to get the same results this time, but that isn’t always true. 
  3. The person writing the ad doesn’t understand the job. If the HR person creating the posting doesn’t understand the role, isn’t familiar with industry-specific language and technologies, or isn’t familiar with the relevant skills, they can end up writing job postings or descriptions that are vague, confusing, and overly complicated. 

How to Evaluate Roles and Hire the Right People

There are many opportunities for HR staff, supervisors, and recruiters to get clarity around exactly what skills are most relevant to a role. Here are some great places to start:

  • At exit interviews. If a person has been in a role for a while, chances are good that it evolved while they were in the position. Take advantage of exit interviews to ask specific questions like: 
    • What skills did you find yourself using more often? 
    • What experience would have helped you be more successful when you started?
    • What on-the-job training was most helpful? 

That kind of information will help you narrow down candidates when you need to fill the role again. 

  • With the supervisor/manager. The direct supervisor or manager probably knows exactly what skills and experience are most critical for new hires, and which ones can be developed on the job. They also have great insight into what kind of personality will work best with their team, and how that job may evolve in the future. This can help you identify the right candidates now, and ensure that the job is a good match for their future goals and aspirations.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions that might appear silly, but help you understand the role better. You are asking the expert in his/her field and there are no stupid questions in a job briefing.
  • Comparison with competitors. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. If you aren’t looking at your competitor’s job postings, be aware that your talent pool probably is. Talented candidates are comparing job titles, descriptions, salaries, and benefits to find the best opportunity. Particularly for roles that are hard to fill, or have been vacant for a while, look up related postings from your competitors and see if they are doing better. 

To successfully recruit the right candidates and get the best matches, companies need to be internally clear about what exactly the candidate will be doing in the job, which skills and experience are most critical and necessary, and which ones are just nice to have, and how that role is likely to change or evolve in the future. Deep understanding of your own company and your own processes will help you find and hire the right candidates. Grapefrute is a fantastic recruitment partner because we know our industries, and we know how to ask the right questions. We create that professional first impression for our clients, and make sure that our matches are always the right fit. Contact us to find out more.