Not in the Job Description: Why Modern Hiring Practices Require a Human Touch

Recruitment is a modern and forward-thinking industry. Businesses don’t think twice about discarding outdated hiring practices when something better comes along, or when client and candidate requirements demand a change. Talent professionals saw the potential of job boards and seized on it; they saw that LinkedIn could provide a valuable means of connecting with highly qualified candidates, and they became early adopters.

Throughout history, the industry has demonstrated remarkable foresight. So why does it persist with outdated practices such as writing and adhering to overly prescriptive job descriptions?

The (role) profile doesn’t fit

Creating an exhaustive, meticulously detailed role profile is seen by many in the recruitment industry as a first step. And why wouldn’t it be? On a very basic level, you want candidates to know what they’re in for – and internally-speaking, at least, it’s good to create them for legal, organizational and historical purposes.

But just as employers no longer wish to spend too long reading in-depth CVs that itemize every aspect of the candidate’s work experience, employment history, academic record, and leisurely pursuits, candidates themselves no longer wish to pour through lengthy, generic, job descriptions that neither accurately reflect the reality of the position, nor convey anything meaningful about the experience of working for the company.

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Having the best intentions, recruiters tend to think first about who their client doesn’t want to hire. This is a valuable part of the hiring process, but it’s one that too many relegate to the role profile; they introduce unnecessary academic requirements, expand the recommended experience to three years-plus, and demand proficiency in tools that are at best nice to have and at worst completely incidental to the job. Consequently, many suitable candidates are put off before they’ve even sent their application – let alone spoken to a human being.

A new approach for a new era

Exhaustive job descriptions are more likely to put off the good candidates than the bad cndidates. Agency and in-house recruiters alike should be focused on assessing individual skills and qualities instead of focusing on rigid, arbitrary criteria.

Individual candidates should be judged by how well they will support the company’s goals, and their potential for growth within their position. You cannot hire your future departmental head when you include restrictions that may keep them out – and certainly not when you don’t meet them personally. The appeal of your role can best be communicated in person, and the suitability of your candidates can best be gauged in person.

Recruiters are providing a service, not just filling a slot. The interview is the time to talk through the role in detail — to find out if the candidate’s attitude, experience, and skillset suits your company. Dismissing them based on their CV or a perceived misalignment with the role profile robs your company of a potentially great candidate.

In an age of escalating skills shortages and diminishing pools of high-quality employees, recruiters must think creatively and change up their sourcing tactics. Overbearing job descriptions only dissuade high-quality hires from applying. Why limit yourself and your clients? To find the best talent, you must engage with them.

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Emma Rosenberg

Emma Rosenberg
Emma Rosenberg is global director of talent at Celerity.

Emma Rosenberg

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