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Taking a complete job brief

If you ask the right questions, in a friendly and efficient manner, you will set yourself up for success

Taking a job spec is a fundamental part of the recruitment process and in my view most placements that fall at the last hurdle do so because of the information, or lack of, that you received at this stage.

In this piece I’ll explain what techniques to use to identifying a job opportunity and also how to qualify the brief too. If you ask the right questions, in a friendly and efficient manner, you will set yourself up for success.

One technique I’ve often found useful over the years is to compose a list of excellent candidates for your field of expertise and use them as a hook to open a conversation with a potential new client. For example, when a new client answers the phone, open with a friendly line and introduce yourself. Explain why you’re calling and outline the skillset of your ‘top grade’ candidates and explain that they are looking for opportunities with a business such as theirs. Then ask if they have any vacancies at present for candidates at that level. If they do not you can still make good use of the conversation by asking what levels they are looking for at the moment.

To be a successful recruiter, you must use each conversation as a means of expanding your network, and even if the client is too busy for you to take a proper brief then, ensure you arrange a time to call them back and spend at least 20 minutes so that you can understand as much as possible about the opportunity.

A client who will not take the time to discuss the brief properly with you, might also not be worth the time you’ll invest in searching for the right candidate for them because you won’t have enough information to fulfill the brief and meet their expectations for the role. Transparency is key during this stage in the process.

Once they’ve agreed to give you the briefing slot you need to take all the details, you can then take the brief in detail.

Key things you’ll need to learn from this conversation include:

  • Job Title
  • Package: salary bracket and staff benefits
  • Determine if the package meets current market trends and candidate expectations
  • Check if the budget has been signed off for the role and whether they will consider more senior or junior candidates
  • Ask what recent event led to position being open and if this is a new role then it’s an even more exciting opportunity for a candidate to consider

There are some more detailed questions you can cover too which will help find the right cultural fit for the organisation: 

  • Top five companies they would like to hire from
  • Where have last 3 hires come from and also ask why they were successful
  • Working environment
  • Team structure
  • Chain of command
  • Where does the new hire fit in?
  • Is it a fast-paced role?
  • What will they use to measure success?
  • How many people work for the organisation?
  • Information on the team:
  • Size of department
  • Mix of experience in the team
  • Team dynamics
  • The client’s ideal personality profile

The key thing here is to establish the key requirements for the role and this is the most important question you will ask when taking the job spec.

Don’t forget to ask if anyone else is involved in the hiring process. I’ve often gone through the entire process and then there is a final hurdle of an additional decision maker who I have had no contact with throughout the process who needs the same level of detail and time to ensure they feel happy with the decision to hire my candidate. This can cause delays and end up with them losing the candidate to another employer. Therefore it’s worthwhile ensuring you know who all the key players are from the beginning.

When you have all the information outlined above you can begin closing the call. Reassure your new client that you’re in a good position to find a candidate that will fit their requirements and the culture of the company. Also, don’t forget to cross sell within your business and offer the opportunity to hire a freelancer for the interim while you search.

While closing the conversation take down some final key details to help your search by asking what the candidate should expect from their interview process. Identify all the timings involved, number of interviews and agree next steps.  This is also the best time to agree or negotiate your fee.

Be sure you are familiar with your terms and conditions of business and send them over for the new client to sign before you conduct your search. Don’t forget to organize a client visit too, this will really support your search especially when cultural fit is so crucial for the hiring process today.

Ultimately, the taking of a job brief will lead to a successful placement if you are thorough and build rapport. The more information you have, the quicker you will source the candidate. Cutting corners will only lead to delays and frustrations later in the process. Let your personality shine through, you will experience a much easier, more efficient and much more enjoyable road towards success.

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