The Essential Components for a Job Description

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Contest Entry By:
Shreya Sethi, HR Head at Durofy

Result: #1 with Cash Prize.

job description

A job description (JD) is a collection of information useful for both the recruiter and the potential candidates to understand more about the job and see if they fit the job. An incomplete job description may lead to ambiguity and issues in later cycles of recruitment. A recruiter should have a complete job description to make sure he / she asks the right questions to the candidates and gets the right people for the job. The job description we will describe here is what the recruiter needs to know to get the right candidates and this is not limited to what the candidates need to know about the job.

A Complete Job Description from a Recruiters Perspective:

A “complete” job description should cover the following points for the recruiter’s reference:

1. Name of Position:

Recruiter should know what position the opening is for – and if there are multiple options based on the experience levels / expectation of the candidates.

For instance, sometimes a candidate shortlisted for a software engineer (SE) position asks for a senior software engineer (SSE) position – Then recruiters should know if there is a possibility of  giving the candidate an SSE position – And also if they can give only the position “on paper” or also give the roles and responsibilities of an SSE.

Some candidates look for high designations on paper and some look for challenging roles and responsibilities. A recruiter, thus needs to be a psychologist in some sense and understand what a particular candidate is really looking for.

2. Number of Requirements:

Recruiters should know how many requirements are there for these positions and they should plan their sourcing strategy accordingly. Talking about sourcing strategy, a sourcing strategy can be directly derived based on the selection / source ratio. Every recruiter should know (as an approximate) their selection / source ratio. This is just the # selections / # profiles sourced. So if a recruiter usually gets 1 selection by sourcing 5 profiles, then this ratio will be 1/5. (Note that this depends on a large number of factors, but every recruiter should have in mind a personal figure for this ratio in order to develop a good sourcing strategy).

Assuming a selection / source ratio of 1/5 (which is pretty much achievable) –  if there are 2 requirements on the positions, then the recruiter should source 5 profiles / day for 2 days then wait for the interviews – once interviews start, recruiter can adjust the sourcing strategy based on the difficulty and rejection ratio of the interview process.

2. Years of Experience:

The recruiter should know what is the exact range of experience for the position(s). Let’s say the job description mentions years of experience as 1-7 years, then the recruiter should know the individual budgets and designations for smaller slabs of experience like 1-3, 3-5, and 5-7 years. 1-7 years is a big slab which may cause ambiguity in the recruitment process – hence, this is to be made clear before starting the recruiting.

Now, let’s say a job description mentioned years of experience as 3-5 years and the recruiter finds a good candidate who is an exact fit to the JD but has 2 years, 9 months of experience, then the profile can be proposed but it should not be made a habit to source profiles will less years of experience. Though this can also be used at times when the budget is too low – recruiters can get people with slightly less experience in the given budget easily.

3. Must-have Skills:

It is important to classify the required skills and find out which are the skills that are absolutely required in the profiles. These are the skills that will form your search string to get the right candidates.

4. Good-to-have skills:

These are the desirable skills that will be “good-to-have” but not absolutely required in the profiles. However, if there are 2 candidates and one of them has these skills and the other has only the must-have skills, then there are chances that the one who also has the desirable skills will be considered. Thus, these skills should not be neglected while looking out for profiles.

5. Contract or Perm:

It is important to understand if the opening is for a contract position, a contract-to-hire position, or a permanent position. A contract position is for a short or long term project where the resource is needed only for a specific period of time which could be a few weeks, months, or years. On the other hand, a contract-to-hire position is a contract position with chances of converting the resource to a permanent resource after the contract duration ends.

6. Length of Project (if contract): 

If a position is for contract or contract-to-hire, then it is important to find out the duration of the project in order to communicate the same to the candidates. It is up to the recruiter to also motivate the candidates to join on contract as most candidates would be worried about the job security and other factors to join on contract.

7. Notice Period:

Based on project demand, the JD should specify how soon the opening has to be filled. If a project has to start within a month, then required notice period cannot be more than 30 days. Recruiter should know the maximum joining period he / she can look at to get candidates accordingly. There may be very good candidates but with 3 months notice period and hence, may not be suitable for the position. However, recruiter should also check if there is a buy out option on the notice period or if the candidate can negotiate the notice period with his / her project manager and come in the required timeline (here – 30 days).

8. Candidate Location Preference:

The job description should mention which locations the recruiter can take candidates from. Some organizations are open to taking candidates from Pan India and some may put the constraint to take candidates only from the local area. The location preference should be taken care of. If the JD allows the recruiter to take candidates from across India, then the recruiter should find out what will be the rounds and modes of interview (telephonic / skype / gtalk / etc) and if a F2F (face-to-face) round will be involved. If F2F round happens, then the recruiter should find out whether the cost of travel of outstation candidates will be reimbursed by the organization. Ideally for outstation candidates, the initial rounds should be telephonic / online and the final rounds can be F2F so that candidates are motivated to travel for the interviews and the costs of reimbursements (if applicable) are justified.

9. Target Companies:

This won’t really be mentioned in the JD as it is but a recruiter should try to find out if there are any target companies from which he / she can get candidates from. This makes the sourcing a lot easier and also helps recruiters get the right fits for the job. Companies who are established in the market know who their competitors are there are the companies working on similar projects – hence, qualifying as target companies. Some companies, operating on a lower budget, would want people from companies who are the next tier companies to them since people will be working on lower salaries there. Hence, identifying target companies is essential.

10. Budget:

The is the most important piece of information for the recruiter. Recruiter should know the budget the company is willing to go up to to get the position filled. Accordingly, the recruiter can find candidates whose expectations fall under the budget given by the organization. Some organizations have an open budget, some have budgets of market standards, sometimes candidates have a very high expectation which is more than their market value. All there challenges are to be handled carefully. Recruiter needs to see if a candidates is really worth his / her expectations. The most difficult part is that the recruiter only has the resume and a telephonic discussion to find this out. Usual market standard for offering a salary is a 30% hike on the previous salary.

A combination of all the above aspects will help the recruiter to find out the steps to recruiter the right candidates. The tool to be used for finding candidates (portals vs social media, etc) will also be decided by the JD. Hence, the recruitment process would start with a complete JD covering all the above aspects.

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