Digging out an old job ad when it’s time to hire a new employee may seem time-efficient, but according to psychologist Alex Tidgård, it’s the absolute worst thing you can do. Here’s why (and what you should do instead!).
When you’re filling a role, a common solution is to pull up a job ad that was used in previous recruitment for the same role. According to Alex Tidgård, a licensed psychologist and founder of Asker Technologies, a common misconception is that reusing an old job ad saves time and is an effective strategy. After all, the ad has worked before?
– We live in a world where everything is changing and evolving rapidly. This also applies to skills requirements and organizational needs. Today we see professional roles changing faster than they ever have before. The problem with the old job ad is that it is probably months, or years, old. The ad is an analysis of what the role looked like then, not what the need is today or in a year, says Alex Tidgård.
It’s not just the role itself that may have changed. The company’s strategy and goals may look different, as may the organizational culture and team dynamics.
What does the usage of old job ads lead to?
– You attract candidates who have a certain expectation of the role, but what you said about the role is not what you will be able to offer. This leads to you losing candidates in the process. In a worst-case scenario, you hire a person on the wrong premise. This person will not be a long-term employee in your organization, says Alex Tidgård and continues:
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– The Corona pandemic is a good example of how things can change quickly. For a salesperson, a previous role description might have included going to many face-to-face meetings and events. Today, after the pandemic, the role might consist mainly of digital meetings. That needs to be reflected when you hire new sales people.
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Instead, Alex Tidgård believes that each new hire should be seen as a unique opportunity to review a role and improve the role description.
– Start by doing a thorough job analysis to define what you expect from the role. What are the purpose, goals, and long-term vision? Look closely at what other people in the same role are doing that is successful today. Put together a requirements profile based on the job analysis and then write the job advert based on this.
A big mistake that many people make when hiring is that they put too much focus on what the current person in the role is like. It feels safe to look for the same skills, behaviors, and competencies because then we avoid unpleasant surprises.
– Just because a person has succeeded in a role, it does not mean that it must be the starting point for the future. You are trying to copy an old employee, which is very difficult. Just because one employee has been in a role for ten years does not mean you need to have the same standards for the next person, he says and continues:
– If you do, you will be starting from an unattainable template – and think of all the things you are missing out on too! Even if the previous employee was great, there may be completely different strengths and qualities that you can find in the next employee that are just as good or better.