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Why a job description needs a job requisition to find the best candidate

As we gear up at the start of another year, projects that were put on hold at the end of last year come to life again.

New deadlines and new business usually lead to further job requisitions for new hires. Every position must also have a job description, not only so that recruiters can source the right type of candidates, but so that new employees understand the role details as well.

But what comes first, the job requisition or the description?

This can easily become a conundrum for hiring managers who already have their hands full with other responsibilities.

What separates a job description from a job requisition?

There’s a substantial difference between these two vital documents. What they have in common, however,  is that they’re both a critical part of an efficient hiring process. They are also essential management tools. But apart from that, each serves an entirely different purpose.

A job requisition form

A req is a document created by hiring managers when they need to recruit a new staff member. Most organizations have a job requisition template that must be completed and submitted to HR and the finance department for approval. Pertinent information may vary, but standard reqs usually need the following:

  • The job title.
  • The details of the hiring manager.
  • The department, team and project.
  • The ideal starting date.
  • The employment conditions: permanent or contract.
  • The salary or hourly rate as well as benefits.
  • The reason: replacement or a new role.
  • The justification for hiring a new employee.
  • Whether the expense falls within the budget.
  • A new or revised job description.

A job description

Hiring managers must be directly involved in creating new job descriptions and revising existing ones before each new hire. Job descriptions are best compiled in conjunction with department team members and then reviewed again with HR or a recruiter when job reqs are created. 

Again, info will vary from job to job and company to company, but best practices for job descriptions usually center around:

  • A concise job title.
  • Level – entry, general, supervisor, management, etc.
  • Essential job-related skills and experience.
  • Essential formal qualifications (if any).
  • Essential soft skills.
  • A breakdown of daily, weekly and monthly tasks.
  • Details of deadlines, targets and quality standards (if relevant).
  • Reporting structure (who the position reports to).
  • Standard working conditions (hours, leave, etc.)
  • Additional terms (such as travel, working outside, being on standby after hours, etc.)
  • Salary and benefits.

What happens to a hiring requisition once it’s created?

As soon as a hiring manager has completed the job req, it’s passed on to HR for approval. The finance department is usually also included in the process, particularly if the remuneration and hiring costs fall outside of the budget. Cost per hire plays a significant role in whether a job requisition will be approved, needs to be downgraded or will be rejected.

The HR department evaluates the req and then consults with finance and the hiring manager. Newly created positions usually need more attention than replacement roles. Once the employment requisition form has been approved, it’s assigned to a recruiter. The recruiter will consult with the hiring manager to review the job description, compile a hiring strategy and set up your recruiting team.

Why requisitions are essential to recruitment policies and processes

It might seem like a waste of time having to create a req for each new hire, but the purpose of the document goes much deeper than just getting approval. In organizations with well-defined recruitment policies and processes, reqs are numbered, assigned a requisition title and then stored in the HR system.

A requisition number is a unique number that’s usually system-generated to identify the job role when another employment requisition is filed. Having a requisition number means that reqs can quickly be accessed on the applicant tracking system. Usually, the requisition title and req number are standardized to identify the role type, department and level with ease. This helps HR and hiring managers make comparisons for future vacancies.

Job requisitions also play a vital role in HR audits as well as metrics. In audits, they’re used to confirm compliance with local and national labor and financial laws and regulations. By tracking the number of new job reqs created, metrics can provide ratios on time to hire and time to fill. This allows hard to fill positions to be identified. Hiring costs can also be tracked from reqs by comparing these metrics with the number of hours put in by recruiters. HR can easily calculate whether they’re over or under-staffed.

Aren’t personnel requisitions for big organizations only?

Not at all! Small and medium-sized companies need them just as much. To create a job req, the hiring manager has to put a considerable amount of thought into it. In particular, around the reason and justification for a new hire.

When we’re under pressure and deadlines are looming everywhere, it’s easy to want to bring more hands on board to relieve the stress. But often it’s a knee-jerk reaction! Taking a step back, however, to justify a new hire allows us to analyze the situation. Is the pressure going to be long term or will it settle as projects gain momentum? Are there other projects that are coming to an end so that staff can be transferred? Can existing staff quickly step in with a little training? These are just a few of the things to consider.

Small and medium-sized businesses can benefit significantly from this analysis. They can least afford to be over-staffed or to bring in skills that they don’t need in the long term. So even if your company doesn’t have an established HR department, get into the habit of creating job requisitions. They will save you time and money in the long run.

How to write a killer job requisition

Whether you have access to an employment requisition form template or have to write one from scratch, don’t just fly through it to get it out of your hair. Consider the time invested as not only time-saving but also as a safeguard to ensure you hire people with the right type of skills and experience.

With the right mindset, you can create quality requisitions that you can refer to in the future. These steps will form the basis and you can expand as required. 

1. Do your homework

Consider why you need to fill the role. What work is piling up, and why? Even if you’re replacing someone, do you need the same skills or has the job evolved? What impact does the role have on the team as a whole? Will not filling the position harm productivity and hurt customers? When you pose these questions, you could find that what you thought you needed is not what you actually needed.

2. Work the job description

Now that you know what you need, refine the requirements by reviewing the existing job description, or writing a new one. Carefully consider the KPI’s, outcomes and how long it should take the new hire to settle in. List all the essential skills, qualifications and tasks so that you have a clear picture of the ideal candidate.

3. Do market research

Once you’ve identified the skills and experience required, do some online research to see what the going salary range and benefits are for the role. You can do that by searching ads on job boards or by subscribing to a compensation software service provider like Payscale. You want to attract the best talent so make sure you know what candidate expectations are.

4. Get management buy-in upfront

Don’t surprise decision-makers with unexpected costs, especially if you’re going to go over budget. Discuss your plans with role-players and explain the pros and cons of adding to the headcount. If they’re forewarned and understand the positive impact of bringing someone new on board, they’re more likely to support you and approve your job requisition.

5. Write a compelling justification

Leave nothing to chance. Even if you’ve discussed the new hire with decision-makers, don’t expect them to remember everything you told them. Put it all down in a justification. Detail what the immediate, short, medium and long term benefits will be. Remember, employee retention isn’t a given and your competitors will forever be lurking in the shadows to poach your best staff. Use that to justify costs, salary and benefits. Happy employees are productive employees who don’t leave on a whim.

Back to the original question: does the job requisition come first or the description?

There’s no straight answer, unfortunately. Can you compile a job description if you haven’t given careful consideration to what you need? Some people believe not. Others say that without breaking down the job tasks and responsibilities, how can you clearly define what you need?

In established companies, HR and personnel records are usually maintained and easily accessible to use as a basis for describing new positions and their requirements. On the other hand, if you don’t have much HR history to work from, it will be up to you to decide. Either way, job descriptions and reqs go hand in hand if you want to ensure successful hiring, proper management and long term retention. 

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