Beyond the Job Description: 5 Ways to Improve Your Recruiting Projects

There is a state of grace that occurs in the recruiting business when the client and the recruiter are so well aligned that the recruiter knows exactly who will be a fit as soon as they connect with that candidate.

To get to that state, you need buy-in from both sides, and some hard work in terms of exploring requirements and understanding the role to be filled. It’s essential to get the basic requirements that typically make up the job description that gets posted online to attract potential candidates. But, to enter that state of grace where the true recruiting magic happens, it’s important to consider a number of other factors before going to market with a job opportunity.

Here are 5 things we try to be mindful of as we engage with clients and help them prepare to go to market with a recruitment project:

Stretch the Job Description

A job description is often a laundry list of requirements that can be put into two buckets: must haves and nice to haves. We’ve found that gently pulling the job description in new directions can yield spectacular results. Sometimes the client realizes that their requirements are a lot more flexible than they initially thought. Challenge the requirements and propose alternatives by asking the question: “How open are you?”

How open are you to someone with less experience? With a different educational background? How critical is it to have someone with deep subject matter expertise in your vertical? How open are you to someone working in an adjacent area?

Asking these types of questions can help you uncover what is truly essential—the pain that the organization is feeling that this new hire will need to solve. Drilling down to uncover the difference between must have and need to have can help your recruiter conduct a targeted search to find the candidate you need.

Get Clear on What “Cultural Fit” Means in Your Organization

Bringing in candidates who will fit within an established culture is a bit of an art. Often, when organizations talk about their culture, they refer to things like the type of office environment, the amount of feedback to expect, how often they buy lunch. On the candidate side, prospective employees are interested in flexibility—how frequently can they work from home, can they bring their dogs, etc.—as well as the employer’s commitment to career progression and training opportunities.

The challenge with defining cultural fit is that it’s often a matter of knowing it when you see it. Having a candid conversation with your recruiting partner about your culture, and what kinds of qualities a candidate will exhibit to be a strong cultural fit, can save time and energy down the road. Candidates used to a high degree of autonomy aren’t a great fit for a high feedback culture. Someone from a small startup might not be a strong fit for a very buttoned down corporate culture. It’s wise to get clear on those things as early as possible in the process.  

Craft Your Story for Talent Attraction

In a candidate’s market, top talent has options for where they work. Many of the best candidates aren’t looking at job boards or submitting applications—they are busy generating exceptional results for their current employers. In order to get their attention, you need a great story.

What’s the problem the company is working to solve? What kind of background does the founding team have that makes them exciting to work for? What makes the organization a great place to work? The go-to-market story needs to have an impact to attract the top talent.

A great recruiter will lead with this compelling narrative when they first contact a prospective candidate. They are looking to generate some excitement and interest, so that when they follow up with the job description and application instructions, the candidate is eager to send over their resume.

Position the Passion within the Interview Process

Take some time to examine your interview process. How many rounds of interviews will there be, and who will they be with? How big are the hoops that you’ll be asking candidates to jump through? How does each step qualify the candidate for skills, experience, and fit?

Next, ask yourself who on your team is most able to sell the vision for the organization and the role in an exciting and compelling way. In other words, who is best positioned to really sell the passion of your mission? Adjust your interview process to put that person front and centre—they should be the first person a candidate talks to. Building that excitement for the candidate from the first step of the process will help make sure that they’re willing to go along for the ride, and make time in their calendars for the rest of the interview process.  

Actively Seek Out Feedback — Early and Often

Before you wrap up the job order and go-to-market, set a process for collecting feedback—from your recruiters and your early candidates. How is the market responding to your story? Is the profile you’re looking for common or rare? How do the early candidates stack up against your list of must haves and nice to haves?  

This initial stage of discovery is vital to the evolution of the opportunity, and an iterative approach to sharing feedback and revising expectations is so important to success.

Think of the standard job description as a starting point for your recruiting project—you need to create a baseline for the role in order to find qualified candidates. These five tips will help you deepen your understanding of the requirements in order to target candidates who are not only qualified, but are at the top of their games and ready for the next challenge.

We’ve heard from candidates who felt as though the recruiter was simply matching acronyms on their LinkedIn profile to the job description, which inevitably leads to a terrible candidate experience. We’ve also seen that clients who are willing to move beyond the job description and take the time to understand how their opportunity fits in with the current talent market enjoy much greater success rates.

We specialize in helping early stage, high growth tech companies build the teams they need to drive revenue. If you’re looking to scale quickly, a bad hire can be catastrophic to success, while a great hire can accelerate results and set you up for even more growth. Use these tips to set yourself up for success with your next recruit.