Posted on: May 11th, 2020

The one-page Job Description does not work!

It’s a daunting task for an external recruiter to try and understand everything a hiring IT Manager wants out of their new IT Professionals from a one-page job description.  How can everything required be there especially since the role of IT itself has changed over the years?  IT Departments are no longer considered to be a mere supporting cost center.  They have been transformed to revenue centers that are expected to drive customer experiences, and the organizations goals.

As the department has changed so has the expectation’s for today’s IT Professionals.  Business prowess is expected to include an understanding of the firm’s marketing campaigns and their customer behaviors.  Additionally, IT Professionals are expected to have range of full technical competencies and certifications (the full stack).  Soft skills are no longer optional, as we expect them to be able to fully integrate cross functionally into teams and departments with strong verbal and written communication.  Finally, they should have an entrepreneurial attitude of innovation by taking their code through experimentation with an acceptable level of risk.  Let’s face it the one-page job description is simply insufficient to begin to describe all of the responsibilities that a hiring manager is hoping for in this new IT Professional.  Look at all the points of failure:

  • The job description is written full of technical jargon not just IT language, but also acronyms, terms, and processes that are unique to that IT Department.
  • The IT Manager may involve their HR Department or may directly speak to the external recruiting agency. The process is different in every organization.
  • Hiring manager only gives a brief 60-minute overview of the position, which they repeat to all other recruiters considering the task to be an inconvenience.
  • The hiring company sees Agency recruiting firms to be just one of many and consider them to be all alike.
  • The Hiring Manager expects the position to be filled swiftly, which means immediately regardless of their own internal roadblocks.
  • Hiring Manager’s attitude is “It’s all in the job description, if you can’t find me an IT Professional then I will find a recruiter who can!”
  • Meanwhile the Agency Recruiting firm expects their firm to be different from all other recruiting firms. They expect you to be smarter, faster, and better than the rest.
  • How can any of this be fair or expected to provide meaningful results?  What is needed is a better way.

A different approach

As for myself I have been around IT Departments for decades and I can tell you one thing is for certain. None of them run smoothly, not one!  That may sound harsh but all IT Departments have a mixture of new and legacy technologies.  Also, they are somewhere on the road to digital transformation, but have not completed their journey.  A new IT Professional will need to learn a lot about the uniqueness of that IT Department before they are even capable of doing their job.  So, to better flush out what an IT Recruiter needs to know I suggest starting by helping the IT Manager write an onboarding plan.  Although that may sound intensive for a busy hiring IT Manager, it really is not extra time in the overall process.  It is simply organizing efforts so that most of the process is thought out and executed at one time instead of fragmented and haphazardly.  First let define what is onboarding to get a better understanding of what is required.

an organization’s efforts to assist and support a new employee in developing the skills, knowledge, and attitude needed to be successful in the job.

There is an important realization from this definition. Onboarding is comprised of three separate parts: Skills, Knowledge, and Attitude. Designing any onboarding program requires planning around the three components which are defined below.

  • Skills – “The ability to do work” A simple definition but it goes well beyond what programming languages do you work with, or automated testing packages. Recruiters begin by asking IT Hiring Managers questions about how a candidate’s skill will be used such as:
    • What integration is required to join the existing IT team? This could include what is the structure your agile teams? Also is there a need for interaction with other departments – Operations, Business lines?
    • Do you expect some level of leadership from this candidate? Will they be performing peer code reviews or assisting junior developers?


    • Knowledge – “Acquisition of facts, truths, or principles by study” Once again this seems straightforward until you start defining what will your candidate not know until they begin the job, so dive deeper into:
      • How do I make if build if I am a developer? Remember each IT shop is unique.
      • What nuisances do I need to know with your ticket management system that is unique to your organization?
      • Also as noted earlier, IT is no longer a support center. So, what do I need to know in order to act as an innovative advocate for the organization’s customer?  What previous experiences are you expecting them build on to prove they can learn your customer model?


    • Attitude – “A feeling, manner, or disposition” Of course recruiters are looking for candidates with a good working attitude, but that begins with the new IT Professional and the IT Team having a level of trust for each other. Trust is gained by working together on difficult problems and each member believing that the other has their best interest at heart.  As recruiter’s you can probe further into trust expectations by asking:
      • How have previous new IT Professionals earned trust in this team?
      • Questions should also be asked to the IT Candidate, what do they feel is expected from the team in terms of support?

Likewise, the hiring manager and recruiter can begin working together on this search to build trust with each other.  Trust leads to all parties becoming committed to the task of hiring a candidate and onboarding them into the organization and this is how a good attitude begins.

As a final point, note that there are specific tasks and milestones for each of the three parts.  This becomes more obvious when you define what is required to be simply capable of doing the job, at the expected level, or to surpass the expectations and become a leader.  The point is if you are an IT Recruiter and looking to gain an edge on that next search.  Try a different approach with your IT Hiring manager.  This way you will not look like just another recruiting company.  I guarantee you find more details about what you need to search for and that will lead to better results!  Note this article was originally posted on LinkedIn on 11 May 2020.


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