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The Importance of Ensuring that Stakeholders Agree a Full Job Spec

February 11, 2019

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By, Mark Burgess – Head of Resourcing at Talent Locker

The recruitment market is candidate driven, with a 2018 survey showing that 62% of companies and 86% of recruiters agree. This puts the responsibility on hiring managers, who must work to put everything in place to ensure that they are attracting the right candidates and evaluating their applications in the most efficient way.

One part of the recruitment process that often causes hiring managers problems is when they fail to secure full agreement for their next hire. The usual outcome of such a situation is that a key decision maker changes the scope of the position just as they go to hire an amazing candidate.  

In a candidate driven market, it is crucial that hiring companies take the time to put together a full brief; one that identifies the key information, formalizes the most likely points of disagreement and allows your recruiter or HR team to pursue candidates with everything they need to hand.


Following Best Practice

Best practice is to compile a basic job specification yourself and then take this to the stakeholders you’ve identified internally before you start the recruitment process. Experience tells us that there are four key areas of disagreement that come up time and again, so you should at least attempt to resolve these for your stakeholders before taking it to them.

Putting in the time in advance will allow you to prepare for the potential complications and conflicts, and provide a structured plan that the decision makers can all agree on.


What Do You Need to Compile a Full Brief?

There is a core set of requirements that forms any job advert, and this can act as a good guide to the kind of things you need to have outlined.

Job Title – what it is and which team this person will work within

Package – the basic salary, bonuses, commission (if relevant), car allowance and other benefits that will be offered. If there is a range that will depend upon the available candidate, this needs to be agreed in principle. 

Budget – where is it coming from and is the cost being divided between teams

Why – is the role needed, what activities will they be expected to perform?

Qualifications – are there minimum qualifications that the candidate is likely to need to perform the role? It is also important that you agree on minimum qualifications and experience across the key stakeholders in this hiring decision.

If you have a job spec that doesn’t cover these core specifications, then it is likely that you will encounter a costly problem further down the line.


The Importance of Resolving the Key Disagreement Points

The most frequent issue that hiring teams have as a result of getting this process wrong is that highly desirable candidates are either put off or take another offer. This can be a significant problem, as it can lead to key personnel joining your competitors, potentially providing them with an immediate competitive advantage.

In the long run, this could also be damaging to your reputation and employer brand. Many highly qualified candidates may share their experiences of your hiring process with their network. If you have left them frustrated or with a bad impression of your company, then this could make future hires more difficult.

If you want to avoid this, you need to work on the four key disagreement points and during the hiring process:


Chain of Command

In many positions this is straight forward: the candidate would be reporting to the hiring manager, who would then report to their manager. However, whilst this is the standard, modern structures are wildly variant. This variance brings the potential for conflicting opinions that may hold up your process.


Character and Cultural Fit

Does your company hire a certain kind of personality, wherever they will sit within the organisation?

If so, then setting out the kind of character that you hope to hire and agreeing this within the team should be relatively straightforward. Whilst it is important to get a strong cultural fit, it is equally important to be open to the possibility that a different kind of personality may add a different perspective to your business that is much needed. With this in mind, it is important to ensure that everyone agrees on any personality traits that would make a candidate more or less appealing.


Roles and Responsibilities

This is fundamental to the process as it outlines what is going to be expected from the person you eventually hire. This will largely form the basis of how your recruitment/HR professional will structure the process, who they will look for and how they will determine whether or not the candidates are likely to be successful in the role.

Equally importantly, this will set out what the employee will be expecting from you, since every interview process is a two-way street. If you are working on the basis that this is a candidate driven market, it is imperative that you have the role formalised prior to hiring them (and do not change the roles and responsibilities before they start).


How this Compares to the Market

This may not sound important, but it frequently causes disagreement between decision makers who see the job market differently to one another. If you know the market, then do your homework and have comparable roles and briefs to hand from competing companies to make life easier for them in reaching an agreement.  

You can then use this information to determine how competitive your role is and ensure that if disagreements do occur, you have the information to hand that will allow you to make an informed decision about the best way to go. If you leave this until a disagreement has occurred, you may find that it’s no longer so easy to get hold of the information and this will lead to delays and frustrations within the decision-making team.


Conclusion: Avoiding Conflict During the Hiring Process

Whenever you are looking for candidates for a position that works across teams, it is vital that you secure agreement on the responsibilities, time and budget split in advance. This is important, as your recruiter or HR team will use the information you have provided to promote and discuss the role with candidates.

Getting this kind of information wrong will lead to poorly matched candidates who will potentially waste your time during the interview phase, or worse still, you will only discover that you have hired the wrong candidate once they’ve started.

It is crucial that you identify the key decision makers and everyone that will influence the hiring decision, before securing an agreement that ensures they are aligned in the kind of candidate they want to find. Having a solid agreement between the hiring team means that you have a clear structure for recruitment and HR professionals to ensure that they find you the right hire to take your company forward.

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