When recruiting, which skillsets really count on a job ad?

A close up of a woman using a laptop, pen and paper and a calculator on a desk in a sunny office.

You have a new position to recruit, and fortunately, you’ve been able to dig up an old job advertisement from when you recruited last time! You can just post the same one up online with minimal effort required. Right?

We’d recommend not, at least not before you’ve properly reconsidered the current team’s needs. Writing a strong job advertisement is one thing, but which skills should you include as being necessary – and why?

Take the below example we found online. The only skills listed as being required are ‘administration skills’. What does that mean exactly? It is referring to data entry speed, MS Word proficiency or shorthand? We can only assume the calibre and quality of the candidates applying to this ad, so to avoid sieving through endless CVs irrelevant to your vacant role, take a look at our tips below to see what actually really matters – and what doesn’t.

1. Prioritise the responsibilities of the role

If you’re hiring an executive assistant, for example, you might be relying on them to spend 50% of their time juggling multiple diaries and managing travel bookings. With this being the case, their likely required skillsets would be high attention to detail, ability to prioritise, and advanced MS Outlook. If the said EA spends 5% taking meeting minutes, this might be a skillset you’d be willing to overlook in an otherwise star candidate.

2. Think about the team

If you’re looking to hire a team secretary, you’re likely to need a highly collaborative candidate with experience in juggling multiple workloads and priorities. A receptionist sitting on their own at the front desk should have demonstrated experience working autonomously.

Any potential candidate’s soft skillset should try and match the needs of a manager / team who might be, for example, self-sufficient or – conversely – quite demanding. Knowing, before you start the recruitment process, which skills you’re prepared to compromise on is incredibly important. While the majority of skills can be taught, soft skills and a good attitude to work cannot.

3. Be specific

How many advertisements have you seen that call for strong communication skills? While this is all well and good, it might be beneficial to drill down on detail. Will they be liaising with suppliers? If so, strong negotiation skills might be necessary. Are they liaising with external clients? Professional business experience liaising at a senior level might be better. Are they customer service staff? In this case customer service training/experience could well be indispensable. Think about the challenges your new employee will face, and how specific skills will help them excel.

4. The proof is in the pudding

Listing skills on a job ad are one thing, a candidate outlining them on their CV is another, but the proof of those skills should be established well ahead of an appointment into the role. That could be through effective competency and behavioural-based questions, skills-based testing or referrals. Don’t assume someone who’s held a similar role possesses the skills you would expect them to have. Probe them on the skills they say they have.

Ensure you spend time on your job advertisement writing. It will almost certainly reflect the quality of candidates from whom you receive applications.

If you need assistance with the recruitment of your next role, please do get in touch.

Author David Morel Tiger Recruitment Team

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