One in every two vacancies fails because HR departments mess up the job description. Five questions for HR consultant, Yurda Burghardt

Yurda Burghardt is an HR consultant at Kerkhoff Group. She has noticed that every other recruitment drive fails because the HR department’s job description is not up to scratch. Five questions for the staffing expert. An analysis of what exactly is going wrong.

Ms Burghardt, what has been the worst job description you’ve seen lately?

It was 16 pages long and from a DAX company. They had, in all seriousness, hired their HR staff from a job portal and were surprised that not a single interested party had been in touch with them. They were looking for a plant manager responsible for over a thousand employees; a really crucial key position.

All in all, an excellent role, but one that was sold badly. What’s going wrong?

It’s true that every other recruitment drive fails because the job description is wrong, and there are three reasons behind this: Firstly, many companies still use industry search and selection criteria that have long since become obsolete. These then appear in the job descriptions.

Secondly, HR departments go into great detail explaining what the company does. However, a clear vision and the benefits of the business model for the outside world are of great importance for most candidates. They want to work in a company that stands for something that makes sense.

And thirdly, companies are still convinced that only the candidates have to apply to the companies and not the other way around - something that’s tangible in the job descriptions.

Can companies be dissuaded from acting in this way?

If I am certain that the job description does not lead to the objective, I’m happy to have a frank and full discussion with HR managers and managing directors alike and then draw up a new job description. If we don't come up with a common denominator, I ask them whether I am the right partner for them.

...and if nevertheless they decide to go with you? How did it work out, for example, with the 16-page job advertisement?

We drew up a new company and task description, including a new profile of requirements. This was far shorter and included three aspects: which skills and interests, and what kind of personality, should the candidate we’re looking for bring to the role.

HR staff come across as out of touch when they don't even notice that they are miles off with their crude job applications. What has been your funniest HR encounter?

An HR manager who, after eight years in the company, could not say for sure how his company earned money in the first place.

Author: Claudia Tödtmann
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