Back in the (Australian) summer of 1985/86 Whitney Houston released the third single from her self-titled debut album. It was a massive hit, reaching number 2 on the Australian singles chart as well as number 1 on the (US) Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song ‘How Will I Know?’ (and accompanying video) were perfect representations of mid 1980s pop music.
The (very catchy) chorus went like this:
How will I know (Don’t trust your feelings)
How will I know
How will I know (Love can be deceiving)
How will I know
How will I know if he really loves me
The song’s protagonist (female) is asking what action (his action) will indicate I have succeeded in obtaining what I most desire?
Not only was it a relevant question for Whitney’s tortured and shy female protagonist, it’s a relevant question for all recruiters to ask their clients when taking a job brief.
Excuse me, Agency Recruiter, how will I know?
Yes, Mr Client, how will you know that the person you appoint to this position will have succeeded? In three months time? In six months time? In 12 months time?
What will they have accomplished?
How will they be making your job easier, Mr Client?
How will they be contributing to your team’s success?
What will their colleagues be saying about them?
What will your team’s stakeholders be saying about them, Mr Client?
These are important questions to ask every client when you take a job, for the simple reason that rarely do job descriptions contain this critical information at the level of detail that is helpful for a recruiter in identifying the best possible candidate.
Job descriptions are typically full of tasks/responsibilities, reporting lines, internal and external customers/stakeholder identification, supervisory scope, essential and preferred selection criteria and other similar stuff. All nice to have and useful to a point but not nearly as useful as knowing how the job holder’s boss will ultimately judge the person as a success in the job.
I accept that some job descriptions have a section called ‘Accountabilities’ or ‘Success Criteria’ and that may have some of the information I am suggesting is important but mostly this section (if it exists) will be vague and high level or the opposite; very specific and numerical.
What you really need to know (and ascertain from your client when taking a job brief), is the desired impact this person will have on their boss, colleagues and stakeholders. When you understand this desired impact then it’s much easier to identify a candidate who has a history of creating a similar impact in their current or previous jobs, regardless of how closely, or far away, the candidate’s resume is to what is deemed to be the ‘right’ background for success in the job.
How will you know when you have taken an effective job brief from a client?
When the client tells you specifically how they will know the incoming job holder (the one you will find for them) is a success, that’s how.