10 steps to take a winning job requirement

Last updated:
February 26, 2021
December 23, 2021
min read
Bev Campling
Table of contents

When it comes to taking a job requirement, it’s not difficult for a recruiter to feel as though they’re on the opposite side of the great divide from hiring managers. Hiring managers are specialists in their department, not in HR, so often their expectations are way overboard. This can really strain the hiring manager relationship.

The initial conversation often goes something like this:

“We just need someone who knows how to code, is eager and can start as soon as possible. You know, similar to the last position we filled…”

Really? Don’t be shocked!

Truth is, you are a recruiter so it is your responsibility to get the required details right so that you can source the best candidates to get the job filled as soon as possible.

10 ways to ensure that you get the job requirement right every time

1. Accept that most hiring managers have unrealistic expectations

Most hiring managers want to give you their requirements on the trot because they’re busy and they want you to fill the vacancy yesterday. It’s unrealistic, but that’s because they don’t always appreciate the finer details that go into finding the right talent.

One of the reasons hiring managers give vague job requirements is because they assume that as a recruiter, you’re an expert at job descriptions. Another reason is that the workplace is made up of different personalities. Not everyone has stellar communication skills.

Specialists in finance, IT, engineering, science, and many other areas don’t need to be great orators. Even excellent communicators from sales, marketing, and PR could want to give you rushed job details because they assume you know what they need. You’re a recruiter after all, aren’t you?

2. Taking a job requirement down correctly is a recruiter’s responsibility

If you get the details wrong, you’re not going to be able to do your job properly. If a position remains open for an extended time you’ll get the blame as applicant after applicant is rejected as unsuitable.

The reality is that it’s not unfair to have to shoulder the blame if you haven’t done the necessary groundwork before the interview process starts. If you start working on a vague job specification and can’t find good candidates, your processes are wrong. The trick to getting enough details from hiring managers is to partner with them by building a good rapport.

3. Pin the hiring manager down

When you get first wind of a new vacancy, ask the hiring manager how soon they can meet with you face to face or by video chat to write the details of your job requirement. Some hiring managers will tell you they’re too busy. Tell them that face time is essential to getting the job filled as quickly as possible with the best talent. That will most likely get their buy-in and they’ll agree to a meeting.

Is face time important? Yes!

When you’re speaking to someone face to face you have their full attention. Even online, eye contact keeps us engaged and body language conveys unspoken communication. Face to face communication also builds trust and confidence. Once you have the hiring manager’s attention and trust you’ll be able to get all the details you need.

4. Be prepared

So you’ve pinned the hiring manager down, but you won’t get what you need if you’re not prepared. As a recruiter, you have to take the lead in the conversation posing the right questions and getting all the details you need.

Take time before the meeting to compile a list of pertinent questions that will help you identify the best candidates. Don’t rely on similar job descriptions from way back, but rather use them to confirm the job requirements. Keep in mind though that departments change and systems evolve. Highlight similarities and bring the previous job description to the meeting.

5. Compile a template for job requirements

Despite expectations, recruiters don’t remember the details of every vacancy we’ve worked on. How could we when we work on so many jobs, screen so many applicants, and interview so many candidates?

The way to go is to have a basic job requirement template and then tailor it for the different types and levels of jobs in your company. Using an ATS makes saving the different templates easy and convenient to be accessed at any time. There are certain basics that come with every vacancy:

  •       Salary and benefits
  •       Years of experience
  •       Preferred starting date
  •       Newly created position or a replacement
  •       Interview scorecard setup if you use a grading system

With the basics in place you can elaborate on the job requirements, but make sure that you have that done before the meeting. It can be a good idea to send the template to the hiring manager in advance so that they can also prepare and avoid delays.

6. Make the most of your face time

Don’t allow yourself to feel intimidated when chatting to the hiring manager, even if you’re speaking to one of the top executives. You’ve been tasked to fill a position and your thoroughness will probably be commended.

Go through your template meticulously and make sure that you understand the requirements. Our best recruiting tip? If something is unfamiliar or unclear, ask! This is your opportunity to understand the job requirements.

If you’ve brought a similar job description along, use it.  Ask questions like “last time we placed a developer in your department the key skills were… is this job the same?” (This is also where face time is important. You can either pass the previous job description across the desk or share it immediately online.)

7. Compile a job description

After the meeting, compile a job description and compare it to your job description template. Does it look right? If there are gaps, get back to the hiring manager. The value of upfront preparation in the recruitment process cannot be overemphasized. What might seem like time-wasting is actually preparing the foundation for seamless screening and interviewing.

Because a job description is a detailed depiction of the job responsibilities, requirements and qualifications as well personality traits, you’ll quickly see missing details in the job requirement.

8. Write the job advert properly

Take time to ensure that your advertising copy aligns with the job requirements. Your job post is your only opportunity to attract top talent. It’s like a first impression! If it looks bland and unappealing, the perfect candidate could scroll past and you’ll be none the wiser.

If the vacancy is for a traditionally difficult to fill role, you want your post to integrate the job requirements with your employer brand to draw in top candidates. Why not send your job post to the hiring manager and ask them if they’d apply for the job before your ad goes live? Their input could be invaluable. They could give your copy just the slant it needs, and you’re engaging them in the process.

9. What you put in is what you get out

Paying attention to job requirements leads to successful hires. How well you prepare before you start the hiring process is your secret to success. Getting the finer details as well as the crucial skills and experience right makes the whole hiring process so much easier.

If you know exactly what a hiring manager is looking for to fill a vacancy, you can eliminate unsuitable applicants automatically by using application questions. Initial screening questions will refine your search even further and that means that all your shortlisted candidates will be suitable.

10. Build partnerships with the hiring team

Building rapport with hiring managers is essential to successful recruitment. Keep them updated via your ATS, and also engage with them if you or a candidate has questions that could influence the outcome.

Picking up on, and addressing issues during the screening and interview process that could be important means you’re making it easier for the hiring manager. Stay focused and engaged, and keep the hiring manager in the loop all the time.

Learning to work with hiring managers rather than carrying out instructions and just following a process is what sets a good recruiter apart from the rest.

What’s the difference? Building partnerships with people means that you’re involved and committed to their long term success. It’s that genuine commitment to the success of others that makes all the difference!

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