Does a JD really matter?

We’ve taken part in a really strange experiment over the last couple of weeks at Ingenio – we’ve been checking if what our client’s tell us they want is ACTUALLY what they go for in a hire situation. If you think about that statement a little more, it could be quite divisive in a recruiter/client relationship but let me try and explain where we’re coming from..

A client will either come to us and say they’re considering someone new for their team, or they’ll come to us in a very organised fashion with a clear Job Description (JD) with role, responsibilities, requirements and package already drawn up. In the first instance, Ingenio will usually pull the JD together to help structure thoughts; in the second, we’ll simply question what has been given to us.

We’ve reviewed just ten of the placements that Ingenio has made over the last six months to put this survey together – half were from the preordained JD group, the other from the consideration group . What’s been really interesting is that the client who comes to us in a very organised fashion with a detailed job description and scope is more likely to go with a candidate who DOESN’T possess all the criteria laid out in the requirements section of the job description. Let me explain:

• Minimum 5 years’ experience – in all but one case, the candidates had the required level of experience – however, that was NEVER measured in the process. So was it about the right number of years’ experience, or was it that the candidate could actually do the job?? When an exceptional candidate comes along it really doesn’t matter how long they’re been doing a job for. They are most always good enough. So rather than popping this irrelevant metric in, try and define precisely what it is that you would want this person to do on a day to day basis. Try coming up with a real scenario and capture that in a paragraph instead.

•Degrees & Education – in 70% of the cases, the candidate DID NOT have the prerequisite education or qualification that was being sought. What does this mean? Perhaps people like the idea of their people having a university degree more than they actually need or want it. Or perhaps for certain roles, a specific qualification or degree simply isnt needed.

•We’re seeing a huge amount of qualitative characteristics crop up in some job descriptions – things like time management, ability to communicate, written & presentation skills – in only ONE case were these characteristics actually tested by the client during the hiring process. So get real with this – either check for these skills as part of the process, include it in your reference checks or start crossing fingers!!

•Probably most noteworthy was the staggering 70% of candidates who didn’t tick all of the technical requirements laid out – these apply right across engineering, design, project management & sales roles. One client laid out five technical requirements, and said they would ONLY see candidates who ticked three of the five which seems a balanced approach to take given the results of our little experiment.

So what are we saying here? JD’s do matter, and remain very important as a tool within the hiring process for your hiring manager, your HR team and your recruiter. However you need to invest the time in writing a good JD that actually gives you what you want, not what you think people would like you to want. Make it count, make it real and then stand over it!