Hiring is a big step for many organizations, and can feel intimidating. But there’s one crucial element that most organizations either don’t really think about, or don’t do very well, that can make the difference in predicting hiring success: defining their ideal applicant and what will they bring to the role.
Many managers will never even think about this, but it is essential for two reasons:
1. No two roles are the same. Two sales roles in two different businesses might need very different skills and qualities. Some sales people love the hard sell, others are more passive.
2. ‘Experienced’ does not equal ‘effective’. Bluntly: some people are really bad at their jobs, even though they’ve been in them for a long time.
So how do you actually work out what you need? Here’s five things to consider to help you define your ideal applicant:
What are the hard, non-negotiable elements of the role, which an applicant must have to be considered for the role? For example, a driving license.
Keep your requirements focused. Take whether the successful applicant need to have a degree. Rather than making this a requirement, break out the specific knowledge and skills applicants will have learned from formal education and their career to-date.
Think about the day-to-day things the successful applicant will do in the job. Keep these short and specific, and action oriented. A sales assistant job might include: processing customer transactions, or providing advice and guidance on products and services.
Then define which of these you need applicants to have done before. It might be easy for applicants to learn how to use your electronic payment system, so you don’t need someone to have used one previously. But you really need someone to have previously assisted customers. This gives you a much better idea of what you are looking for than years of experience, especially as applicants may have completed these tasks in other roles.
What subjects and topics should applicants know about? If you run a sports store, you might want applicants to have knowledge of a particular sport. If you run a pre-school, you might want applicants to know your state’s education requirements for preschoolers.
What are the things an applicant should bring to the role? These should be generic and transferable from other roles and formal education. Think math skills, or technology skills.
What are the character traits of your ideal applicant? Do you want someone who works independently or someone who is good at working with others? Do you want someone who demonstrates a willingness to learn, or someone who exercises leadership?
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