Sanne Goslinga

Hiring Talent, Without “Years of Work Experience”

Writing a job description is not something that most hiring managers enjoy doing let alone spend time thinking about. Hiring managers usually start writing job descriptions when they set out to fill a position, oftentimes copying one they have found on the internet. Yet writing a good job description is one of the most important steps in ensuring you attract and hire the right person. Being able to clearly describe the profile you are looking for requires going through the expectations, daily tasks and responsibilities and ultimately mapping these with requirements and nice to haves. This helps to better identify candidates suitable for the position, set their compensation and speed up the hiring process. 

When asking hiring managers what profile they are looking for, one of the first things they often start with is “someone with x years of experience”. More often than not, the number of years of experience isn’t representative of the actual experience and skills of the candidate and in fact can even be seen as discriminatory to candidates who are more junior or senior in their years of experience. I’ll provide an example and explain why.

This is a senior recruiter position and the profile is described as follows:

Screenshot 2021-04-08 at 11.55.32 AM

The first thing that the post indicates is that the candidate should have 4 to 8 years of recruitment experience. However, the post is not clear on what specific type of recruitment experience they are looking for. For example should the candidate have full cycle recruitment experience, experience making offers and posting job ads? Rather than explaining the experience that the company is looking for, they assume that a candidate with 4 to 8 years of experience will have this.

In addition, 4 to 8 years of experience excludes anyone from applying who may have more than 8 years or is just shy of 4 years of experience. Research has found that in particular women who do not meet all the requirements listed in a job description will often tend not to apply. You could therefore be missing out on some really great profiles that might otherwise have the experience you are looking for, just not the number of years. 

You might wonder: “How can someone with 3,5 years of experience have the same or more experience as someone with 5 years of experience?”. Well some people who, even though they have less experience in years, could have had more exposure resulting in a broader or more in-depth experience. Whereas, others may have really limited themselves in broadening their knowledge and skillset. Or, their experience could be closer to the needs of the team you’re trying to build or grow.

Here is an example of a senior recruiter position, where the years of experience are not mentioned. The profile is described as follows:

Screenshot 2021-04-08 at 11.55.39 AM

This job description really focuses on explaining the profile; the type of experience and the skill set of the candidate they are looking for. Because the hiring managers have not used the phrase “x years of experience” it has forced them to focus on describing the actual experience they are looking for rather than letting that depend on this one sentence and assuming someone with x amount of years of experience would have what they are looking for. Chances are, this job description will attract more relevant and better qualified applicants than the previous one.

Let’s take a look at a different role. Below you will find two versions of requirements of a product manager role. The first example (A) states “3 years of experience” and considers this to be “experienced”, however it does not specify what experience they are looking for (only skills). The second example (B), although very short, clearly describes the experience they are looking for in two (!) bullet points.

Example A
Screenshot 2021-04-08 at 11.55.45 AM

Example B
Screenshot 2021-04-08 at 11.55.51 AM

Writing job descriptions is not an easy task and in particular when the hiring manager themselves may not fully understand the profile they need to hire. At times companies may be so focused on increasing their headcount numbers, they end up writing generic job descriptions without analyzing their needs and making their expectations clear. Invest the time to really understand what your needs are, articulate the profile and reach out to people in your team, company or network who can help you identify these needs.

*The examples provided in this article are actual job descriptions taken from various internet sources. I have chosen not to identify the company of each job description as this is irrelevant to the post.