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No matter how far we think Australian businesses have come
with respect to recruitment and employment practices, there are always plenty
of reminders that old habits die hard.


One of these old habits is the classic client response
to a recruiter who requests a job description; ‘I don’t need a job
description, I’ll know them when I meet them’


This would be laughable if it weren’t so common to
hear, even in 2014. Considering the amount of money at stake in hiring somebody
(not just direct costs like wages and recruitment costs but indirect costs like
training and job/colleague/client adjustment time), it seems foolish in the
extreme to be so cavalier as to not think it worthwhile to have anything in
writing about the job you wish to fill or employee you wish to hire. What
person would attempt to build a house without first having a plan?


If you want to find your way to a destination, does a
detailed map help or hinder you? Given the popularity of Google Maps I think we
all know the answer. Of course a person may find their way to a destination
without a map, but in all likelihood the journey will take longer and cost


An effective job description
broadly contains five things:

  1. clarity about why  
    the role exists (ie the overall purpose of the job)
  2. what   needs to be done (ie the task or responsibilities of
    the role)
  3. how   it needs to be done (eg the lines of authority, the
    demarcation with, and relationship to, other roles, resources available, etc)
  4. the performance  
    to be achieved (the accountabilities or success criteria of the role)
  5. the key
    selection criteria  (ie the existing capabilities  required of
    candidates to be seriously considered for the role)


The benefit to both the recruiter and the hiring
manager is, I would hope, obvious; there is now a clear benchmark that both
parties are working with.


When a job description does not exist, all you have is
a person’s interpretation of what was said in a conversation about the vacancy.
Such interpretations are both subjective and, of course, likely to be
remembered differently by each side as time moves on.


However a job description is really just the first
piece of the recruitment puzzle. It is also critical to have a recruitment


The recruitment
brief is a document that details all the information required to efficiently
plan for, and execute, the recruitment of the position detailed in the job


An assignment brief
should contain, at least, the following: 

  1. Remuneration and benefits details
  2. The candidate sourcing process
  3. Ideal or projected start date
  4. The interview and assessment process
  5. The background checking steps
  6. Verbal offer and written offer process
  7. Recruitment budget
  8. Recruitment timeline
  9. Overall ownership of the recruitment process
As you can see,
there are many other factors besides the job description that need to be
identified, considered and a decision made about, before the actual candidate
sourcing process should begin.


Completing, and working from,
an accurate recruitment brief maximises the likelihood that the recruitment
process will deliver the desired candidate within the projected time-frame and


Given the number of things that
can occur outside   of your control during a recruitment process, it is
reckless to be ignorant, lazy or ill-considered with all the factors that are within  
your control during a recruitment process.


‘I know them when I meet them’?

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About Ross

Ross is a high performance recruitment coach and recruitment industry blogger and commentator.

Since 2003 Ross has run his own business,  providing a range of services to the recruitment industry in Australia and New Zealand.

" Ross worked for me over many years in an environment that demanded the best and stretched people to the utmost –and he excelled during that time.
Many people, at all levels in our industry, could learn from Ross Clennett. "

Greg Savage, FRCSA (Life)
Recruitment industry speaker, investor, leader, and board advisor

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