Tuesday, Dec 09 2014

Best Practices: Job Descriptions and Candidate Profiles

Written by



When you’re filling IT positions at your company, you want to attract top talent and hire the right fit. Do you have the tools you need to make that happen? A compelling job description and an accurate candidate profile can work together to help you find and hire ideal IT candidates.

Developing your job description and candidate profile simultaneously will help you maintain consistency, clearly define the role for both candidates and your company, and increase your chances of finding the perfect IT professional. Here’s how you can create a job description that draws in top talent, and a candidate profile that helps you hire right the first time.

Job description: Less is more

Just as you don’t want to read through dense, overly long resumes that detail a candidates’ history back to grade school, IT candidates don’t want to slog through long-winded, highly detailed job descriptions with endless requirements. Long blocks of text remain unread, especially when they’re posted online.

To attract the best talent, your job description should market your company as a great place to work. It must be appealing, attractive, and as brief as possible without leaving out the essentials. Keep in mind that your description is competing with all the other hiring companies for a limited talent pool — and you need to impress IT candidates right from the start.

The components of a fantastic job description include:

  • Engaging headline: Don’t make this bland or generic. Simply listing the job title is not enough (and adding “now hiring” at the front is not an improvement). Include a few descriptive words that convey the nature of the job and your company.
  • Short requirements list: If you include a list of 10 requirements for a position, most candidates are going to be missing more than half of them — and therefore won’t apply. Focus on the three or four most critical skills, work styles, or behavior traits to include in your job description.
  • Job specifics: Offer an exciting summary of details about the job or project, the particular role you’re looking to fill, and the team that the candidate will be working with.
  • Exciting benefits: Your job description should sell the benefits of working for you. Beyond salary and benefit packages, let candidates know what they can expect with regard to training, opportunities for challenges, and advancement.
  • Employer brand: Highlight the reasons why people enjoy working for your company, including your workplace culture.

Top IT candidates don’t have to take every job that comes their way — they are able to pick and choose the project that excites them. In order to attract the best, your job description needs to sell the position and your company.

Candidate profile: Your hiring blueprint

Finding the perfect IT candidate means knowing more than their work experience, skills, and education. In addition to what’s listed in the job description, you need to consider a candidate’s behavioral and personality traits, as well as soft skills like communication, work ethic, attitude, and values.

Creating a candidate profile allows you to define a full, accurate picture of the ideal candidate. You’ll understand the type of person you need in this position before you start interviewing, and you’ll be able to tailor your interview questions and format to find the best qualities for the job.

When defining your candidate profile, keep in mind that you don’t want to hire someone who’s exactly like you — and you also don’t want someone who’s completely opposite. Aim for a happy medium and profile candidates who share your values and goals, and complement rather than mirror the existing strengths of your team.

Decide on the two-to-three most critical behavioral traits that the ideal candidate will possess. Some of the most common desirable traits for IT candidates include:

  • Focused: A positive attitude and specific ideas about the contributions they want to make to your company
  • Objective: Fair and unbiased candidates who gather information and seek input before making decisions
  • Reliable: Candidates who are consistently available and complete work on time
  • Communication: Strong communication skills with both coworkers and supervisors (may also extend to vendors, stakeholders, and customers)
  • Principled: Candidates with clear values who share those values with others
  • Flexible: Shows a supportive attitude toward change and is willing to try new ideas to achieve results
  • Team player: Demonstrates a willingness to work well with others, collaborate effectively, and share credit

Taking the time to develop an engaging job description and a thorough candidate profile in tandem will help you attract and identify the best IT candidates, and fill your open positions correctly the first time — whether you’re hiring a consultant or a permanent employee.