The Empathetic Job Description

ByL J Doulton

The Empathetic Job Description

How often can you say you’ve read a job description that seems flat?

All too often job descriptions look like a template that has been doing the rounds for at least a decade. It’s a convenient and quick option that can be tempting. Let’s say you need a Finance Manager; it’s easy just to do what you did the time before only most of the time you’re hoping for a different outcome. Both the company and the industry itself changes over time and the requirements for what makes a good candidate for a role changes with it. Cutting corners is like having a quick buck mentality, neither of them works in the long run. If anyone’s reading this thinking ‘it worked for me’… You could have done better!

In our last blog, we spoke about the importance of an empathic approach to candidate selection. The reality is, the need for empathy starts even earlier on when a Hiring Manager is trying to understand the needs of the business. Back to the prior point – that takes time so the easy option is taking the premade job description and advertising it. What happens when you change the approach and really took some time to understand the business, the culture and the team before writing it? Would this streamline the level of interest to the right applicants?

The unfortunate reality is there will always be situations where managers will feel they don’t have time to do this; they just need CVs now. The role of a good HR Manager or Recruiter is to show them that the value of understanding these, results in a more successful recruit long-term.

How can you create a better job description?

When creating a job description, it’s useful to have a pro forma in your mind of all of the key areas you want to discuss. Whether that’s with a recruiter, direct report or team member. These might include skills, educational background, personality traits, team fit and so on. In our experience, it has been practical to include directly affected team members to get a gut feel for personalities in the group. It is imperative to minimise the number of ‘must have’ expectations as this can rule out candidates who in reality could work out really well. I see this a lot, especially when the role is outsourced. There will always be some non-negotiables though either way, such as in the case of the Finance Manager where it might be an accountancy qualification.

For recruiters, the more vibrant the picture we can create in our mind, the easier it will be to know when we have found the right person for the business. This should lead to a condensed shortlist with less risk of Hiring Managers conducting interviews that are a waste of time for everyone. In our preferred methods, the recruiter’s role is as it should be – consultative and value adding – as opposed to pushing job specs and CVs from A to B.

This is an empathic approach to recruitment and applies to writing a job description, which is synonymous with having a strategic partnership with both clients and candidates. It takes more energy hiring in this way, but the outcome for both the candidate, client and recruiter is always worth it.

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