058 – Why The Wrong Candidates Keep Applying to Your Job Posting!
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Hey there and welcome back to the Your Best Manager podcast. My name is Jamie Newman and I’m happy you tuned in today because I’m covered a topic that probably seems boring on the outside but let me tell you, the advice I am going to share today is going to save you so much time and frustration in the hiring process.
But before we jump into today’s topic, I’ve got a favor to ask. If you listened to Friday’s show, episode 57, you already know this, but I am launching Your Best Manager TV on YouTube, which is going to be a free channel with weekly videos on leadership, management, career development… that’s going to complement the stuff I cover here on the podcast. Now, the channel is technically live right now and I’ve got a teaser video up that you can check out, but it will be officially launching this Friday, April 7th.
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But enough on that, it’s time to jump into today’s lesson.
Why The Wrong Candidates Keep Applying to Your Job Postings!
We are continuing our series on the Fundamentals of Management and we started diving into hiring last week. And what I did last week was, I recommended 10 questions that you should ask before you even think about hiring another employee. There was also a PDF worksheet that I put together with those 10 questions, and I know some of you have already picked that up, but if you haven’t yet, click here!
Now, I left off last Monday’s episode by saying that if you have taken the 30-minutes to complete those 10 questions, you’ll be able to confidently move forward and build out a recruiting strategy.
And the obvious next step is to develop a job description, which again, doesn’t sound very exciting, but I’m going to help you take advantage of one of the greatest opportunities during the hiring process to save time and avoid frustration.
On Today’s Episode
The biggest mistake hiring managers make with their job descriptions
The real purpose of a job description
What works, like step by step, how do you actually build an effective job description?
And I’m going to start off by sharing the biggest mistake that hiring managers make with their job descriptions, because if you miss this… you are doomed! You are doomed to receive an abundance of wrong resumes and you are doomed to interview too many wrong candidates.
I mean, what are the 2 biggest time sucks when it comes to the hiring process?
- Reviewing bad resumes
- Interviewing the wrong candidates
I’ve spent a long time in the recruiting industry and I know this is true. A manager puts up a job posting and hundreds of resumes pour in where maybe 1 or 2 of them are actually even worth the interview.
Then, 5 interviews are lined up and, in some cases, none of them actually meet the qualifications.
Waste. Of. Time.
Why is this?
It’s because too many managers don’t think what I am talking about today is important and they approach the “job description” phase of hiring in one of two ways, none of which involve any forethought or preparation.
Wrong Approach One: Just Post It Already!
You need to recruit and hire a new employee and maybe you thought about some of the questions we discussed last week, or maybe you didn’t. But you are convinced that you need to hire someone and you needed that person yesterday.
So what do you do? You either grab an old job description or ask HR to just figure it out… after all, shouldn’t the job description be HR’s responsibility anyway? (note the sarcasm… yes, it’s HR’s responsibility to support internal hiring, but it’s your responsibility to hire people and so you are ultimately accountable for what’s on that job description).
Wrong Approach Two: The Last Minute Meeting with a Recruiter
This approach can be just as bad as the first approach, if not worse… because in this case, you as the manager may actually be thinking you are doing it right!
Here’s what happens.
You need to hire someone but recognize you need to leverage support from your HR Team or Internal Recruiting Team. So what do you do? You schedule a meeting with your internal recruiter and lay it all out there… like, all of it.
But you don’t put much thought into it until that recruiter is sitting in your office.
Now, maybe you have a great recruiter who you are working with who knows better, but in my experience, most internal recruiters walk into these meetings ready to do whatever the manager says (although they won’t admit it) and often these recruiters like to demonstrate how great they are by compiling incredibly detailed notes of exactly what you said during this meeting… EXACTLY what you are looking for.
In the end, you as the manager start rhyming off a wish list of the ideal candidate and the recruiter you’ve enlisted for support is then able to craft an impressive document that has every responsibility, qualification, nice to have, must have, maybe could have, would really love to have… they’ve got it all written down. Oh, and they also have a thorough description of the role, the purpose, the opportunity, and the relationship hierarchy.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well the short answer is that there is too much information and most of it isn’t tested, and I’ll explain what I mean by ‘tested’ in a little bit. But with too much information on a job description, candidates don’t really know what to do.
So, as Murphy’s Law plays out, great candidates don’t apply because they find a way to disqualify themselves… since they don’t meet EVERY qualification you’ve listed (even though we all know that most people we hire don’t meet each and every qualification).
But worse than this, all the other candidates look at the job description or posting and say, “wow, there’s a lot there, I don’t want to read all that… oh look, a keyword I’ve been looking for, I’ll apply!”
So you miss great candidates and get overwhelmed with the wrong candidates and you are left frustrated about how “dumb” these people have to be to apply for jobs they aren’t a fit for.
But why do so many managers make this mistake? Why are the job boards filled with job postings that either look like they were put together last minute OR they look like it took 6 engineers 30 hours to put together?
Most managers don’t understand the purpose of a job description.
The purpose of a job description is to create a job posting. And the purpose of a job posting is to engage and entice the right candidates to apply for that job.
The purpose of the job description is not to describe the job!
I know, that doesn’t sound like it makes sense, but it does. You don’t need a candidate to have a clear understanding of the entire job, work environment, responsibilities, opportunities, work relationships, perks, benefits, management structure, upcoming projects, potential stretch assignments, or more.
That’s what the interview is for.
Now, is it important to have all of that information available for a new hire? Yes! But it’s more of a job profile and it comes into play when you are in the process of selecting and hiring a candidate. This full job profile allows you to define responsibilities, communicate expectations and set standards for things like compensation plans, performance monitoring, and career development.
Useful? Yes. Necessary? Yes. The same thing as a job description? No. Important at this stage of the recruiting/hiring process? No.
All you want to do in your job description is entice the right candidates and deter the wrong candidates.
If you do this, then you get better applicants. Better applicants then yield better interviews and ultimately saves you time and frustration because you don’t need to sift through as many unqualified candidates.
Okay, so that’s what not to do, that’s the most common mistake managers make when it comes to putting together a job description, but what’s the right way to do this?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
HOW TO BUILD AN EFFECTIVE JOB DESCRIPTION
(one that actually attracts the right candidates)
I want you to put together your job descriptions with these two words in mind.
Critical and Concise.
You want all the information in the job description to be of critical importance and you want the overall document and final job posting to be clear, concise, and easy to read and understand.
Let’s jump in.
The first thing to look at is the job title.
THE JOB TITLE
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There are hundreds of candidates out there who make their decision to apply based on job title alone. Meaning there are many candidates who won’t ever look at the job description you’ve put together.
Crazy? Yes, but that also explains why you may receive so many unqualified applicants.
In fact, there was a time, and I don’t think they still have this option now, but there was a time where candidates had the option on Monster.com to batch apply. Meaning they could select 10 jobs and click auto-apply to those jobs. They didn’t even have to click on the job description!
But the reality is that some candidates out there are looking for jobs with a shotgun approach and hope that if they apply to enough jobs, one of them will work out.
So the job title is the first place to be specific. To entice the right candidates and deter the wrong ones.
The way you do this is by adding the most critical skill into the job title. Again, this isn’t the job profile that has to match company standards or is used to determine compensation, this is the job description that is used to hire people with, so your job title can be anything!
And this doesn’t need to be complicated. Think simple.
If you need to hire a Project Manager, don’t just put Project Manager as the job title. And if the Project Manager you need to hire is within Finance, don’t just put Project Manager – Finance. Put in a specific software they need or a specific skill, or a specific type of project.
If your job title just says Project Manager, you could have every person who has completed a project management course apply. And if you put Project Manager – Finance, you may get every Project Manager who has worked in accounting or banking, when maybe you need a project manager who has implemented ERP systems.
So find a way to get specific in the job title so that the ERP specialist Project Managers sees your job title and is enticed, and the construction project manager with Oil & Gas field experience doesn’t!
The next section of your job description is… the description, the intro, the overview, it’s your opportunity to summarize what the job is and what the opportunity is.
For this section, you’re going to lean heavily on that word concise. Applicants are likely looking through quite a few job postings and despite how interested they may be in your company, once you’ve looked at 20 or 30 job descriptions on your computer screen… they all start to look the same.
So you want this introduction to be 2 sentences… maybe 3, max and you want it written to the candidate, meaning as if you are writing the candidate an email.
Now, you can use a cheesy intro line, like, “are you looking for that perfect opportunity? Look no further!
…but I don’t really think it works all that well, but the point is, draw the reader in, and questions can be attention grabbing, so you could start off with something like, are you a senior project manager with ERP implementation experience? The right candidate will be drawn in, the wrong candidate will hopefully move on.
Describe the job with just 2 sentences
- We are looking for Blank to do X.
- As a BLANK, you get to do Y.
That’s all you need. In the first sentence, you make it crystal clear what type of candidate you are looking for and be sure to put one of, if not THE most critical skill set in that first sentence, and finish it off with why the role is open.
So, something like this.
We are looking for a senior project manager to lead the implementation of our new Oracle Cloud program… or whatever it is that they will be doing.
Your next sentence is the incentive. This is where you talk about the opportunity… it’s your unique selling proposition. The reason why someone should want to work for your company, or on your team, or in this role or on this project.
So, this could be something like this.
As an ERP Project Manager, you’ll have the opportunity to lead a multidisciplinary team, travel the world and save the sea turtles.
Okay, so, you should also make sure your incentives are true… but you get the point.
And that’s it. Your 2-3 sentence opener is all that’s required. If you can’t convey the opportunity to a potential candidate in 2-3 sentences, you are working too hard. Your goal isn’t to communicate everything, it’s your goal to communicate just enough so that the right candidates are enticed and the wrong ones are deterred.
RESPONSIBILITIES & QUALIFICATIONS
The next two sections are a list of job responsibilities and then qualifications… and you want to treat them the same.
Continue the conversational tone and subtitle these sections with something like this.
RESPONSIBILITIES SECTION TITLE EXAMPLE
Your responsibilities as an ERP Project Manager will include:
QUALIFICATIONS SECTION TITLE EXAMPLE
Your background experience in ERP Project Implementation will include:
And yes, you are even using these titles to reinforce the specific nature of what type of candidate you are looking for.
It’s in these two sections that you want to keep that word, ‘critical’, top of mind.
Because I’m going to recommend that you only list 3 responsibilities. The three most critical responsibilities! If you need to, you can include five, but almost any job can be summarized into 3 core responsibilities, and that’s the point here. What’s the CORE of this role?
And list each responsibility as a bullet point.
The reality is, that the right candidate will understand that there is more to the job than the responsibilities section suggests, but one of the challenges with listing too many details here, and the same is true of the qualifications section, but one of the challenges is that potential candidates may start to wonder if they need to have expertise in ALL areas mentioned or just some, but which ones?
But if there are only 3 responsibilities listed, a candidate can assume that they are all CRITICAL. Meaning that if they have experience or interest in all 3 responsibilities, they will want to apply, but if they are missing one or two of them… well, that should send a signal to the wrong candidate that this is the wrong job.
You’ll want to do the same in the Qualifications section, but when it comes to things like certifications, there can be exceptions to my rule of no more than 3 bullet points.
So list out the most absolutely critical qualifications.
These are the things that, if they don’t have them… that candidate is out, no matter what.
This is also where testing comes in. I mentioned this earlier, but what I mean by testing is that once you have your qualifications listed, test them.
Ask yourself these types of testing questions.
Okay, I wrote down 10 years experience as a qualification, but do they really need 10 years? What if they have 9? What if they have 8?
Okay, I wrote down that they need to have oil & gas experience, but what if it’s all field construction? What if it’s only in the office? What if it’s only 6 months?
What you are doing here is you are taking the time to review what you really need. What’s critical and you are listing as few as possible so that it’s crystal clear, if you don’t meet these qualifications, you won’t be considered.
The last section of the job description is what I’ll refer to as, the logistics.
THE LOGISTICS (how to apply and other important info)
It’s the final bit of information that a candidate needs in order to apply. So, this would include instructions on how to submit a resume, or perhaps what to send or include in a cover letter or resume package… but this could also include notes on things like travel, shift, etc.
Now, the reason you want this information at the bottom is because it’s the last section that’s read. That doesn’t mean that the information isn’t important, but the other stuff… you know, the stuff about being the right qualified candidate, is more important.
With that said, this description is about being concise and critical. If there is something absolutely critical that you need to communicate related to the application process or the logistics of the role, whether that be shift, work visa requirements, travel, etc. Go ahead and put that either in the qualifications section, in the intro, or even as a separate note after the intro section.
There you have it. A clear, concise and critical job description so that you can spend more time on your recruiting strategy, more time on an effective and engaging interview process, and more time with the right candidates.
And whether you are personally running the recruiting process or not, this information is imperative for you to have as a hiring manager because it’s the most effective way to communicate your needs, whether that’s to a potential candidate, a recruiting agency, or your internal HR rep.
THE END RESULT
I need a Project Manager with ERP Implementation Experience.
This Project Manager is going to lead the implementation of Oracle Cloud.
They get to run the entire program, lead a multidisciplinary team, and work directly with senior executives.
They’ll be responsible for A, B, and C.
I need this candidate to have X and have experience doing Y and Z. If they don’t have these things, they won’t be able to perform the job.
And they need to be willing to travel 30% of the time. Got it?
Concise and Critical.
Alright, that’s it for today’s topic. Like last week, I’ve compiled this information into a PDF worksheet/template that you can use to put together your own job description.[convertkit form=5002846]
Whether you are going to be doing the recruitment yourself or not, this worksheet will cost you about 30 minutes of time, but save you AT LEAST those 30 minutes by reducing the number of irrelevant applicants.
Now, of course, there are about a hundred additional things I’d like to talk about when it comes to job descriptions and job postings, from simple things like please don’t use the word incumbent in your job descriptions… even internally, it’s so cold, and then things like… salary! Do you include it in a job posting? Do you put in a salary range? Do you leave it blank? So much stuff! but… we don’t have time today and this isn’t a podcast about recruiting strategies.
So if you want more on this topic, you’ll have to let me know or reach out with any specific questions you have and I can answer them one-on-one… if there is enough interest, I might consider doing a series down the road on recruiting, but I think we should probably get through the Fundamentals of Management first!
With that said, we are going to talk about recruiting strategy next Monday. I’ll be giving you a step by step plan that you can use to find your next employee… I’m basically taking the tricks of the trade that I learned over 8 years in the recruiting industry, and putting it into a simple system.
And again, this will be something that every manager should be taking advantage of and learning about, regardless of whether or not you are the one responsible for the actual sourcing of candidates.
So I’ll catch you again next Monday as we continue to the series… and in the meantime, I’ve got two great leadership interviews coming up on Wednesday and Friday this week, so if you have not subscribed to this podcast yet… it’s a good time to do that so you don’t miss a thing!