2. How to write a clear job brief

How to write a clear job brief’ is the second chapter of Create, the second book of The Hiring Playbooks, 5 ebooks that will turn all your hires into wins. Created by the Homerun team.

This article will help you keep your goals clear and focused, eliminate guesswork, stay on time and on budget and make your hiring process repeatable.

Image by Studio Spass

Introduction

A job brief is a plan that details all of the work you need to do in order to
fill your job opening, your objectives, your budget, and your timeline.
You might think you know who you’re looking for, but you don’t. Sorry.
People often think that hiring someone will solve one problem that the
company or team has — but you don’t have one problem, you have lots.
(Sorry x 2). Usually it’s not entirely clear whether you expect the hire to
solve all of those problems, so the better you know which problems you
want the hire to solve, the more specific you can make the job post -
and the better hire you can make.

How do I write a job brief?

  1. Do the research
    The key to a good job brief is research, research, research. If you heard
    that before in Playbook #1, then what we’re about to say won’t surprise
    you either: make sure you involve your team all the way through. In this
    instance, you should get the information on the job straight from the
    source — the person who does, or did, the job you’re going to advertise.
    Reach out to the team that you’re aiming to expand and the person
    you’re replacing. If that’s not possible, the person with the best
    understanding of the job you’re hiring for.
    Ask them:
    • What the job involves: key responsibilities, daily tasks, objectives,
    and goals.
    • What qualifications are essential to the job: the hard skills,
    training, and experience necessary to succeed in the role. Try
    to keep this list as short as possible. Don’t think ideal, think
    essential!
    • Why the job matters: how it fits into the team’s process, helps the
    team reach its goals, and furthers the company’s mission.
    • Who fits: the personality traits that fit with the team, the soft
    skills that make them successful, and the attributes of the people
    they like to work with.
    Your findings will help you gain a crystal clear understanding of the role
    that you need to fill and the type of person needed to fill it.

2. Write a quick company profile
Including a short profile of your company in your brief will ensure that
you stay true to your company’s mission throughout the hiring process
and that you accurately represent your company to job seekers and
candidates.
This profile can be reused each time that you’re hiring someone new
and throughout your job posts, and even your career site.
Not sure what to write? Have a look at Chapter 4 of Playbook #1,
Understand
, where we go through the importance of employer
branding.
Include:
• Basic details: company name, industry, and what you do (services
or product).
• Brand differentiator: what makes your company unique, the
company mission, vision, and values.
• Culture statement: a quick summary of your company culture.
• The competition: list the companies you’re competing with in the
war for talent.
• Employer brand differentiator: what makes you stand out as
an employer, your perks, benefits, cool clients, and impressive
projects — everything that you’ve used to define your company
culture.

Willem van Roosmalen, co-founder Homerun:

“Every job is a unique balance between skills, team, challenges and
company culture — and all that needs to be communicated in one
post. A good job brief is the first step towards ensuring your job will
reach (and be filled by) the perfect hire.”

3. Outline your goal and objectives
The goal should reflect the overarching purpose of your hiring process:
find the right person to do the job; strengthen your team; grow your
company. The objectives are the measurable outcomes for what you’re
trying to achieve with this hire. You should divide these into short-term
and long-term objectives.
Examples of short-term objectives:
• Hire someone with all the essential skills to do the job
• Hire someone who shares the company’s values
• Hire someone in X amount of time
Examples of long-term objectives:
• Hire someone who delivers on the short-term objectives
• Hire someone who improves the team’s productivity
• Hire someone who will stay with the company for X amount of
time.

4. Define your target audience
It’s time to consider exactly who you want to hire: your target audience.
Understanding this group will help you make informed decisions about
what to include in your job posts, where to publish them, and how to
speak to your candidates.
Fortunately you already know a lot about them thanks to your research
and the Employee Survey data. All you need to do now is compile all
this data and form a detailed picture of your target audience.
Remember, when focusing on your ideal candidate, try to avoid broad
demographics like gender and age, and instead focus on things like
interests, media consumption, and lifestyle. Think about who you’re
trying to reach, not what they are.

5. Create a timeline and budget
As you’re no doubt aware, the longer it takes to fill a job, the more it
costs. To avoid creeping costs and project sprawl, write out a simple
budget and timeline.
Your budget should include:
• External services (recruiters, headhunters)
• Cost of posting the job
• Promotion (job boards, social media)
• Referral programs/rewards
• Training and onboarding
• Also note the salary range you plan to offer and any non-salarybased
compensation.
Timeline
The average time-to-fill is 37 days, but this varies depending on the
type of position. To determine your timeline, decide on the start date
and then estimate the time needed to achieve each milestone that
leads up to it:
• Posting the job
• Reviewing the applications
• Interviewing the potential candidates
• Negotiating the contract
• Making the final hire
• Use your timeline to help you create, and stick to, a schedule for
the hiring process from start to finish.

6. Compose your brief
Now you’ve got all the information you need at your fingertips,
summarize it and put it into a sharable, living document.
Start with a paragraph explaining your goals and objectives, detail the
requirements and explain your target audience. Next, list your next
steps and establish your timeline.
Attach the rest of the information that you have at the end of the
document, so it’s easy to reference as you progress through the hiring
process.
When you’re done, share the brief with your team. As they’re going to
be working with the new hire, it’s an ideal moment to get their feedback
on the role and future direction of the team.

What do I do next?

Use the takeaways from your job brief to take the next step in your
hiring process: writing a job post. How? Read all about it in Hiring Playbook #2 Create.

All Images by Studio Spass.