A successful business relies on the quality of its workforce so finding the right logisticians should be a top priority. But all too often companies waste valuable time and money as a result of sloppy recruitment methods. In such a time-critical industry companies are under pressure to fill job slots fast. But speedy recruitment is worthless if the chosen candidate isn’t suitable for the job.
Steve Kaim-Caudle, director of Momentum Logistics Recruitment, thinks companies could save themselves unnecessary problems that often surface as a result of rushed and ill-thought out job descriptions.
The trend towards centralised business structures means that it is often human resources that recruit and not the line managers themselves. This can mean a template job description is used as standard. But the problem with these “copy and paste” descriptions, is that they are too similar, says Kaim-Caudle.
They are also misleading and can result in candidates applying for a job for which they are totally unsuitable or under-qualified. Kaim-Caudle reckons many of them are too woolly and that at times it’s not even clear which industry the role is being advertised for. He warns against relying on them alone to recruit, saying they are often “too generic, and don’t give the size or scope of the job requirement”.
For example, he says if a company is looking to recruit for a role which involves dispatching, it’s more useful to specify whether the candidate will be responsible for dispatching ten tonnes per day or 10,000 tonnes. The same goes for a transport manager role. The company should state whether the role requires 250 vehicle movements per day or 500.
Money-saving incentives will be more popular than ever in the coming months and taking care to attract the right people will minimise recruitment costs, as well as prevent the rise of other, unforeseen costs. “If you recruit a shift manager on a £40,000 annual salary, only to find they quit after six months, you’ve effectively wasted £20,000,” says Kaim-Caudle.
John Clark, general manager at DHL Exel Supply Chain’s Rugby site, raises the issue of cultural fit. He points to a previous occasion when he was under pressure to employ a shift manager as quickly as possible. As a result the recruitment process was rushed and the wrong candidate was chosen.
“There was a personality clash between the new employee and the rest of the team, and he resigned. Culturally, he wasn’t right for the place,” says Clark.
However a job role appears on paper the reality is usually very different. Internal culture is a fundamental part of any company’s requirement, but whether a candidate will fit in is often not established until after they’ve started work.
Time is even more pressing when recruiting interim managers. Generally interim positions need to be filled within two weeks, but Kaim-Caudle says sometimes it can be as little as 24 hours.
A lot is expected of interims, which makes them expensive. Companies look to them to solve a specific need within a certain time frame, therefore having the appropriate qualifications and experience isn’t always enough. They must be able to respond immediately to the assigned problem. “If you get the wrong person you have a real problem,” says Kaim-Caudle.
Barrie Dowsett managing director of the BJD Group, advises, “quantifying the objectives attached to a timescale. This is often not done because urgency overtakes detail.”
Although some job descriptions are too generic, others can be too detailed, and instead of attracting a lot of unsuitable candidates, it has the opposite effect – repelling rather than enticing potential candidates. Dowsett says: “Often we see adverts of job descriptions that are over-descriptive. The result is that they end up resembling a wish list and can put people off applying.”
Job descriptions are often misused because they are confused with job specifications, which should be kept separate. The latter “fleshes out” the basic job description and is site-specific. Dowsett says that the specifications should refer to qualifications, education, technical skills, and experience.
“If the description states that the employee would be responsible for disciplining team members, the specification would then warn of the consequences of this not being met by the employee,” says Dowsett.
If this level of detail is listed in the initial description, “a company can end up chasing a candidate that doesn’t exist…if you have an advert listing a load of ‘you must haves’ you’re more likely to prevent people from applying. If you want to attract people according to capability and suitability you’ll need to tone down the demands and requirements.”
It’s not just time and money that can be compromised by not giving recruitment enough attention, but the overall efficiency of the business. After all, if the wrong person is employed, productivity levels may suffer. “Get it right the first time and the benefits will negate the pitfalls,” says Clark, and what better place to start than with the job description.