Every profession has it’s own language and when I started headhunting I learned that a job requisition was shortened to job req or just req. However, after listening to or reading a number of them I decided that they were more wrecks than reqs—and wrecks didn’t help the hiring effort one bit!
The labor market cycles with the economy, so whether there is a dearth or abundance of candidates hiring is rarely easy. Identifying good candidates takes time whether at full employment or high unemployment, the difference is whether you put the time in pre or post ad.
The approval process and physical format for a req are determined by your company, however, the content (as opposed to the form) is what’s important because without good content you have a wreck—not a req.
To start with, HR cannot really write your req, nor should you expect them to. It is you as manager who knows specifically what the person will be doing, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the rest of the team. It is you who knows with whom the person has to interface and with which other departments she’ll be working. When most people tell a third party what they want in a position or person, the information usually falls in one of the following categories:
- Vague: This demands a high degree of psychic ability. From 10 or 15 words followed by “you know,” the recipient is supposed to describe what is a very specific set of responsibilities requiring a sophisticated professional with some form of esoteric experience, skills that compliment those already in place and a personality that will act in synergy with an unknown group of equally eclectic individuals to form a team.
- Generic: This description requires psychic ability combined with a librarian’s research talent. A brief description of skills ends with “like the last few, only this one will be working on the new product, so it would be nice for some direct experience from one of our competitors—you know.”
- Ridiculous: The manager’s written description, 10% of which is responsibilities and 90% a detailed description of every single skill, personal trait, educational credit, and experience the manager has ever dreamed of adding to his team. (This approach is also referred to as the “laundry” or “wish” list.)
When you write a req you must take time to think! Obvious? You wouldn’t think so if you spent much time reading job descriptions or listening to what headhunters are told. Writing a viable req may take time at the beginning (less with practice), but it saves time in the long run by providing better screened candidates for interviewing.
Too many managers “figure out” through interviewing trial and error exactly what they are looking for. This approach is not only frustrating for both candidate and manager, but also wasteful and inefficient on every level—not to mention expensive. Additionally, it hurts the company’s reputation by wasting the time of candidates, who then tell their friends, “I don’t know why they wanted to see me, the job didn’t interest me and I didn’t fit it anyway, so don’t bother with them if they call.”
Since hiring frequently involves more than one interviewing manager, it is important to have agreement on what qualifications, personality, style, etc. they all want. I remember one candidate who interviewed with three managers. Each manager described the req so differently that the candidate got really excited because he thought the company had three openings and he would be able to choose which he liked best. In fact, the company had one opening that interfaced with two other departments, hence three mangers interviewing, each with his own view of the position! To prevent this, everybody involved must agree on the minimum acceptable experience and skill level for the position—not the wants and wishes, but the minimum needs!
Finally, to guarantee real success (yours, the candidate’s, the team’s, and the company’s), remember: You are not hiring a skill-set suspended in time and space or a cyborg that can be reprogrammed if needs be; you are hiring a living, breathing human being with all the pluses and minuses that entails. Once you get in the habit of writing a good, i.e., fillable, req and adhere to it, you will find that the entire hiring process becomes easier, takes less time and isn’t subject to the whims of charm.