For recruiters and candidates alike, the job description (JD) is an understandably essential tool of the recruitment process. It will contain the main duties and requirements for a role and, for a recruiter, can be used to shortlist suitable candidates. On the candidate’s side, it can spark an interest in a potential opportunity.

The make or break for both parties, however, comes from the candidate’s thought processes when they analyse the JD to see if the opportunity is worth pursuing. The document may contain ever important salary information and team sizes. But many candidates nowadays will go through a job description with a fine tooth-comb to see if the role offers the progression and development of skills that they are looking for from their next role. Job hunting is no longer just about the financial benefits.

The reality is, however, that most job descriptions, while containing a comprehensive list of duties and responsibilities, usually end with a disclaimer. This may be something along the lines of 'this job description is not designed to be a complete set of duties and may be amended due to business needs’. The question then is: should a candidate reject an opportunity outright ONLYon the basis of what the job description says?

Recently, a candidate came to me asking for my assistance in securing a new role. She felt that her current role just wasn’t stretching her enough or providing the support or structure she needed to progress. Naturally, after considering what the candidate was looking for, stage one of the recruitment process came into play: the handing over of the job description.

The candidate read it through and came back to me with some well-thought-out questions. I was able to pass more information across and with the extra detail (which wasn’t contained in the job description and came as a result of speaking to the HR team at the firm) the candidate agreed to be put forward.

After a couple of weeks of to-ing and fro-ing through interviews – me playing the role as middleman between the firm and candidate in this tripartite tableau – the candidate was offered the role. But wait – there was a twist to the story!

The candidate was not offered THE role that was advertised. Instead, following discussions between both parties, the law firm decided to create a new, more junior role, which would provide for the support the candidate wanted with a view to training them up to the more senior role they had been interviewing for. Who would have thought this could happen? Needless to say, the candidate was thrilled as the support they would receive was worth more than the salary on offer.

The reality is that while internal recruitment teams create job descriptions, they are ultimately designed as a starting point. Law firm HR and business management teams can sometimes tweak roles to accommodate a credible candidate. That is why it is always important to go and see the firm, if offered an interview, as the process is as much about you getting to know them as it is about them getting to know you. Only then, can a candidate make an informed decision about what opportunities the role can bring.

Savvier candidates are starting to understand this – some candidates are still playing catch up. Only one candidate will get the job though. Wouldn’t you rather it was you?


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