Why Taking a Real Job Brief is Important

In recruitment we wear a number of different hats. We don’t just “fill roles” and it is my personal pet peeve when people mention to me that they are “just a recruiter”. However, filling roles is an important part of what we do, and something that we need to get right! This week as I was taking my normal walk to work I took note of a sign outside my local coffee shop. It simply read: “Something”.
somethingManager: Go out and write something on the board.
Employee: What do you want me to write?
Manager: I don’t know, no idea what’s on – go talk to the Chef.
Employee: The Manager wants me to write something on the board – what should I write?
Chef: There’s heaps on – loads of specials – just go out and write something on the board, I’m too busy preparing for the day.
Result: Something.
I had a chuckle to myself thinking how that might have come about and how it was quite amusing as I finished my walk in to the office. Of course, that made me reflect on recruitment.
As recruiters, it is actually really hard to recruit a role if you base your knowledge on assumptions or what you have recruited for them before or you base your search on the “something” answers. If you push on with your “something” answers you will more than likely end up with “nothing’.
A good job briefing is one where you get not only a good view of the role and who your hiring manager is looking for. The difference between that and a great job briefing is where you ask more questions!
As recruiters, we need to understand and remember that a job briefing is not an order taking exercise and play an active role in it too. This can mean you may challenge or troubleshoot the current role, make observations or put forward potential solutions to issues/challenges that you can foresee or provide market insight or labour market analysis. It’s at this point that you can test the real wants and needs of your Hiring Manager and truly outline what falls into a want and what falls into a need to make sure that you aren’t searching for a purple unicorn in Waikikamukau (Australian reference: Back of Bourke) for $45k.
A great job brief isn’t a standard list of questions you ask your Hiring Manager (or worse – email). A great job brief is the true basics you need as closed questions (salary grade/band/amount, location, hours etc.), and the rest as open questions to get your stakeholders to tell you more. It’s at this point you can ask the why and where and how questions to build out your brief and truly understand the role, the team and if you’re an agency recruiter – the wider business and their strategy. If you don’t think a good job brief is required, you need to think again.
[bctt tweet=”If you based your hiring decisions on assumptions & somethings, you will get nothing.” username=”ATCevent”]
While getting all of the information up front is great for you in identifying the right people, it’s also key to keeping them engaged in the process as you screen and interview. You’ll be able to answer questions, you’ll know how to prepare your candidates and you’ll become a trusted advisor to your talent as well as your Hiring Manager. Remember that when they get a counter offer……
While I could rattle off a list of questions to ask in your brief, it’s very different for each industry, sector and level of role – you’ll need to hone in on your niche and what you need to recruit. It’s over time that you will build out your briefs. There is no one size fits all approach to taking a brief and you will find if you move to a more open question model you will find a groove that works for each of your managers or clients. Those open questions can sometimes lead to real gems of information – potentially other roles that are being/to be recruited or new information you didn’t know.
In closing, my advice with job briefs is take the time to get the right information up front. It will save you time, resources and possibly heartache later down the track. Because otherwise you might just end up with what my local café did.
Cover image: Shutterstock

This article first appeared on Recruiting in NZ blog on September 15th, 2016.


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