Are Your Essential Requirements Really Essential?

Are you looking to hire someone? Many charities are. So you need to give yourself the best chance. Something that’s often overlooked in ads is ‘essential requirements’. It can be hard, not to mention time-consuming, to come up with a new advert from scratch every time. But it will help, both in attracting and assessing applicants, and once they’ve started the job.

We’ve all seen them, job adverts and person specifications that go on forever, asking for everything under the sun. My friends and I usually send these to each other, just adding ‘and the moon on a stick’. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By staying focused on only what is genuinely essential, you can greatly improve your person spec and attract more candidates.

Get candidates’ attention—and keep it

Getting the job advert right is vital. It’s a candidate’s window into your charity, so the content matters, including what is asked of potential applicants. Focus on what’s really important. Given that job seekers spend about 50 seconds looking at the requirements to judge whether they are a good fit, you need to make the most of that time.

On average, women only apply for jobs when they meet 100% of the criteria while men apply if they meet 60%. So, the longer the list of requirements, the more people you are putting off, especially women.

Keep it simple

The CIPD say that a person specification “states the essential criteria for selection”. So it’s best to leave it at that. Include what you really need and reduce or remove what you don’t.

Don’t ask for unnecessary experience

How do you get experience if you don’t have experience? Too often, you can’t. There are many ways of trying to assess whether someone can do a job, and past experience of doing it is a very common one, for good reason. But if you ask for two years, and someone has one and a half but has all the other skills, would you really exclude them? It’s much better to focus on the skills needed rather than an arbitrary number.

Focus on skills and responsibilities

Instead of listing things about the ‘ideal’ candidate, it can be better to list the skills and competencies needed. These competency frameworks focus on performance objectives, the roles and responsibilities and what the person who gets the job should achieve.

Check the salary and requirements match

If you’re asking for a long list of essential requirements, consider whether the salary is right for anyone who meets all of them. If the salary is too low relative to the list of requirements, you are likely to get fewer applications. If the salary doesn’t match the requirements, you should change one or the other. When you post a job, you can use our new salary checker tool to benchmark your offer.

Ask yourself if a degree is really necessary

A lot of employers want people ‘educated to degree level’. But you should always think about what that really means. If you have a job that requires specific skills, say in fundraising, will they have been gained from a drama degree? Maybe, but maybe not. It’s better to focus on the skills necessary for the job, like communication, written or presentations skills. It’s no different from anything else. Just think about what is really necessary for the job and the different places someone might have gained those skills.

Remember, less is more

Asking for lots of things, ‘…and the moon on a stick’, may put off people who would otherwise be good candidates, especially women. Before posting a job advert think about what you really need in that post and only include the essential things in a person specification. Remember just to stick to the really key skills and experiences. It will make your advert more appealing to a wider range of candidates, and it can help to make your recruitment fairer as well.

Remember, less is more.

Tags: attracting the right candidates, charity recruitment, charity sector recruitment, finding the right people, hiring process, inclusive recruitment, job ads, recruitment process

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Martin Rogers