How to write a brief: the first resource in the FJWilson ‘Talent acquisition’ series

FJW coutts-4106-C-500pxFiona Wilson (Managing Director of FJWilson) writes: When you engage a recruitment agency to help fill a vacancy, you will naturally provide a job description and information on the basics – for example, pay, location, and benefits. In addition you need to provide a brief.

Providing a full, clear, brief increases the likelihood of successful recruitment. Here’s a list of factors to consider.

  1. Consider whether you need the agency to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
  2. In any case, ensure the agency is clear which pieces of information should remain confidential.
  3. Is this a new role or are you replacing an employee? If it’s new, what is the rationale for creating the role? If you are replacing someone, why has this vacancy arisen?
  4. What type(s) of professional background would you like the candidate to have? If more than one applies, place them in order of preference.
  5. What types of current or previous employers might make the candidate attractive to you?
  6. What are the dynamics of the team that the successful candidate will be joining? If the role is managerial, what issues are outstanding?
  7. Similarly, what are the personality types in the team and what personality type(s) would be desirable?
  8. How does the team fit into the rest of the organisation? And how is the team viewed by the rest of the organisation?
  9. At what pace does the employing organisation and the team typically work?
  10. How much change may be expected?
  11. Are there any key performance indicators (KPIs) beyond those provided in the job description?
  12. Has this role been offered to the market before? If so, what has been learnt from that experience?
  13. What strategic objectives – short or long term − are there that are relevant to this role?
  14. What do you view as a good ‘cultural fit’? (This term frequently arises when candidates are rejected at interview stage, yet many employers fail to define it in the brief beforehand.)
  15. Above all, ensure that you remain within the law. Please note that, though the above advice is given in good faith based on our professional experience, we’re not lawyers and we do not know your circumstances. We don’t, therefore, recommend relying on our advice alone – we recommend that you also seek legal/professional HR advice.
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