Job Requirements: What are They & How to Determine Them

Anete Vesere

Content Marketer

Finding and attracting the best-fit candidates to fill a role has always been hard. Talent pools are continuously shrinking and everyone is chasing the same talent. Especially now, when the great resignation and talent shortage is on everyone’s mind – everything job seekers can read about you online will play the most crucial role when it comes to how they see you as a potential employer. It’s a difficult labour market for most of us, right? Candidates want to work with cool, fun companies that have a fair application process.

Everything starts as soon as a candidate opens up your job description. 

First impressions, you know the drill. 

A job description is a potential first point of contact with your next hire, and the requirements you lay out could compel them to apply or the exact opposite – turn them away them. In order to leverage job descriptions to your advantage and attract qualified applicants, you need to be thoughtful about the requirements you set.

No need to worry though, in this blog I’ll tell you all you need to know about what are job requirements and best methods for determining them. 

Just read on! 😉

Job requirements: A definition

a definition of job requirements

 

The most simple way of defining “job requirements” would be “qualities/qualifications that a candidate must possess in order to be considered as the most suitable for a specific job”.

To give you an example, job requirements might include specific experience, education, accreditations, personality traits, and so on that are critical to success in a specific role. Job requirements lists are often broken into “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves,” which helps to further clarify what is required and desired by the employer. P.S. A general rule of thumb is to make it clear which are “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” when it comes to requirements!

On top of that, job requirements are also a great way to showcase your employer brand, company specific culture and attracting the best candidates out there by being entirely transparent and truthful about what the specific job role entails.

Usually included in written, list form as part of a posting, requirements are one of the most crucial parts of the recruitment and screening process. This is where you define what your ideal candidate will need to have to make it past the application phase. 

Job Responsibilities Versus Job Requirements

What I’ve heard often (and to be honest with you – was quite unsure about myself before I did some in-depth digging & research) is that for many the difference between job responsibilities and job requirements is a bit of a grey area. Considering that both are an integral part of the job description, let’s take a look at what makes them different from each other.

Job responsibilities are the functions an employee has to perform to succeed in the position, so for example, manage social media strategy and increase following on LinkedIn) . 

Whereas, job requirements are the skills, education, certifications, or other ‘qualifications’ an employee needs to (already) possess to perform those job responsibilities. For example, knowledge or experience when it comes to SaaS B2B marketing.

Importance & purpose of job requirements

Job requirements are of equal importance both for you and candidates that apply. Here’s why.

Job requirements for candidates

Think about it, throughout your own job search – what are the things that you first notice in a job ad/posting? Personally speaking (and I think you can relate to what I’m about to say), it’s probably the outlined job requirements and job responsibilities that guide you towards either applying or deciding not to apply. 

Why? Because based on that job description, the candidates are deciding whether they are whom you are looking for in a new employee – if they feel like they do match these requirements, that means they could be a good fit. If not, well – then they probably don’t apply.

After all – nobody wants to start a role only to realize that they’ve been misled by an inaccurate or misleading job description…

TLDR:

  • Be fair to your candidates and yourself
  • Establish clear requirements before publishing your job advertisement. 
  • Save your own and your candidates’ time by ensuring that the right candidates enter the pipeline.

Job requirements for employers

Now to the fun part – there are two very important reasons as to why you should care about setting up the right job requirements:

Reason 1. To improve the hiring efficiency

Wouldn’t life be much easier if anyone could just enter through the doors of your company, declare that they need a job, and get hired on the spot, no questions asked? It wouldn’t even matter what the job is, as long as there is someone who is willing to do it.

Without job requirements, pretty much anyone and everyone may apply, and would have to be considered for an open position. Which is not necessarily a bad thing itself, yet it also means that you’ll spend a lot of time and money in the long run sorting through hundreds if not thousands of applications in the hope to find someone that could be the right fit. 

Reason 2. To improve overall hiring quality.

By making the job’s requirements as specific as possible, you will be able to reduce the pool of applicants, allowing you to create a shortlist of candidates that possess the necessary qualities and qualifications for the job. As clearly defined job requirements are also more likely to attract the right candidates. 

Thus, resulting in overall improved hiring quality (since the right candidates will be entering your hiring funnel from the very beginning of the hiring process).

7 Types of job requirements

7 types of job requirements

Skill requirements

The World Economic Forum estimates we will need to reskill more than 1 billion people by 2030! 🤯Time to take advantage of this momentum & make skills-first hiring the new way to connect talent to opportunity & connect you to talent! Skill requirements can include both hard and soft skills. 

In most cases, the focus has been largely placed upon listing the necessary hard skills required for a job. Yet, over the past few years, there has been an increasingly growing demand for soft skills – 92% of talent acquisition professionals report that soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills! 

So let’s take a sneak peek at what are the main differences between the two!

Hard vs. soft skills in recruitment: what is the difference?

Here are some main differences between hard and soft skills:

 

Hard Skills

Soft Skills

Industry-specific

Useful across all industries

Learned through training, education etc.

Natural abilities

Technical knowledge

Related to emotional intelligence

For example: coding language, technical SEO skills, designer skills.

For example: collaboration, teamwork, leadership, adaptability, and creativity.

The problem here is that in most cases we just tend to focus on hard skills – a developer’s programming language, an analyst’s financial forecasting skills, etc. And that doesn’t just impact the size of your talent pool, but it also often leads to bad hires. At the end of the day, in most cases we tend to hire for hard skills and fire for lack of soft skills.

For example, when a new hire doesn’t work out, 89% of recruiters say it is usually due to a lack of soft skills. That’s why when determining job requirements, it’s of utmost importance to carefully consider which skills are must-haves and which can be learned on the job.

Educational requirements

What will you put on your CV after your name? Many choose to show their educational background to capture the attention of recruiters.

Without a doubt there are jobs that require candidates to have obtained a certain level of higher education (examples that first pop in my mind would be doctors, architects, civil engineers and so on), but for roles such as software developers, you may only require a high school diploma.

The important thing is to carefully evaluate whether it’s a must or not and clearly specify it within the job requirements. For example, that a degree is required, but experience is preferred -not neccesarily needed. This means that a college degree is all that a candidate needs for consideration but experience in a related field would certainly help. Or vice versa. By focusing too much on screening based on education, you’ll actually end up discriminating against candidates.

Anyway, I have always been really against screening candidates based on their educational background – but I might be slightly biased here, as I almost dropped out of high school myself and didn’t have the best grades throughout my university years either. 😉 You’d think that education would become less and less relevant in an era where every company talks about ‘’skill-based hiring’’ being the future of recruitment. However, that is not the case (not just yet, anyway).

Work experience

Experience. It’s something most companies primarily rely on when hiring someone because it feels like the safest indicator of hiring success. And in fact, in most cases, it’s valued even more than education.

The obvious reason to look for candidates with previous work experience is that managers are often believe that hiring someone with experience is safer than hiring someone without it. If you have done this exact job three times before, then you must know how to do it by now.

It’s completely understandable why so many companies do it: it’s easy to assess. 

  • Have you worked in sales for 4 years? Yes. Great. 
  • Have you managed people before? Yes. Fantastic.
  • And so on..

 

All of these are simple yes or no questions. Thus, making them easier to understand and answer. However, research findings by Chad H. Van Iddekinge of Florida State University and his colleagues do not support the idea that applicants with more experience will be better or longer-tenured employees than those with less.

Not convinced yet? Here’s the proof:

Professional licenses, certificates and certifications

Certifications are awarded by a third-party organization that has a certain set of standards. For example, Google Analytics, Certified Data Professional (CDP), Social Media Marketing. Certifications are not legally required in order to work in an occupation, however, they do require demonstrating competency to do a specific job, often through an examination process.

Professional licenses are awarded by the local, state or federal government. They give the legal authority to work in a particular occupation. These are most commonly necessary for the following field: community and social services, education, healthcare, finance (think of accountants, auditors and real estate brokers).

A certificate verifies that a person has completed a course or series of courses at an educational institution. Certificates are typically granted by programs or institutions such as universities as a result of education focused on one topic (but separate from a degree program). 

Now, let’s put this into perspective: 

  • Who would you hire, a candidate with all the professional certifications in the world or one with the experience to do the job?

 

It really, really depends on the job and industry. For example, imagine the following scenario: you are a software engineer with a degree in Software Engineering, yet you don’t have any certifications related to it. Now, imagine you have a friend who is an incredible programmer. However, this person has no degree. Their software engineering knowledge and skills far outstrip anyone else you’ve ever met, but this person finds it hard to land jobs. 

To employers, this person is an unknown quantity. Interviews went fine, but looking at that CV, they see a big blank spot where a degree would go. Thus, also increasing the chance of missing out on this top notch talent. All while there already is a shortage of talent out there.

Language requirements

If language fluency is an absolute must to successfully perform at the role, this information should also be prominently displayed within the job requirements. For example, if you’re looking to expand into the German market and don’t have anyone in your Sales and Marketing team that is fluent in German, it might pose some difficulties connecting with prospects.

Language requirements can be a significant barrier for candidates, so make sure you’re not only being fair to yourself about whom you need, but also fair to candidates so they are fully aware of the necessary language proficiency the second they read the job requirements.

Personal qualities and attributes

Of course, you as an employer want to know whether a person is qualified for the position, however, you also need to somehow figure out whether the candidate will also work well with the company culture overall and specific team dynamics. The only way to assess this or determine it is by taking a look at personal qualities and attributes that are specific to the company culture and specific teams.

Some things that come to mind when thinking of this would be collaboration, teamwork, leadership skills, communication and interpersonal skills, adaptability and flexibility, creativity and intelligence. And yes, all of these are important, yet it’s also crucial to understand that there is no one fits all. 

Collaboration

Let’s take collaboration for example. People can be either more individualistic or more collaborative – both sides of the spectrum have their pros and cons. Individualistic players are self-motivated and prefer working and making decisions independently, but might struggle with asking for help. Collaborative players prioritize team goals, can ask for feedback and prefer teamwork, but they might struggle with independent decision-making.

To determine whether a candidate should be more collaborative or individualistic (or in between), you could ask yourself the following question when defining job requirements:

Which of the following statements best describes the role?

  1. This person needs to make a lot of independent decisions. (=individualistic)
  2. This person has to manage different opinions and factor them into their  decisions. (=collaborative)
  3. This person can make independent decisions but sometimes needs others’ opinions to make things work. (=middle)
  4. None of the options above applies to the job.

Cognitive flexibility

Another example would be flexibility. People can be either flexible or habitual. Habitual individuals prefer a structured workflow, and stable working environments, and might find it harder to deal with change. Flexible individuals can easily adapt to changes in their environment and prefer tasks that require strategic decision-making, management, and creativity.

To determine whether a candidate should be more habitual or flexible (or in between), you could ask yourself the following question when defining job requirements:

Which of the following work environment situations applies most frequently to the position?

  1. This person usually works in a structured environment with limited change. (=habitual)
  2. This person usually works in an environment that requires them to adapt to changes frequently. (=flexible)
  3. This person sometimes works in a structured environment, and sometimes in an environment that requires them to adapt to change. (=middle)
  4. None of the options above applies to the job.

Physical abilities

For manual or physically-taxing roles, set specific mobility and ability requirements. Not everyone is able — or wants — to work a physically demanding job so clearly explain what is expected of candidates in terms of their physical abilities.

That said, consider what it would take to accommodate candidates who don’t meet your current physical ability requirements – because being inclusive is of utmost importance too.

How to determine job requirements?

Skill gap analysis

A skill gap analysis helps to identify the skill gaps an individual or group of individuals has. Just like a gorge or a river, you can probably recognize there is a gap from here to there when it comes to skills within your teams, but what is the best way to bridge (see what I did there 😉 ) that gap? 

The skill gap analysis is like a bridge’s blueprint- it helps you to identify the best way to close the gap. 

Conducting skill gap analysis can bring plenty of benefits:

  1. Gives you insights into your entire workforce. 
  2. Increased productivity over time and improved employee engagement. 
  3. Helps you to focus on developing and retaining your people. 
  4. Improves your recruitment success. 
  5. Gives you a competitive advantage. 

 

Team Analysis

Team analysis – it’s exactly as simple as it sounds – no need to dig deeper. It’s a process of identifying and analyzing the knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitude requirements relevant to team performance to then later on also be able to hire based on what’s necessary for respective teams to succeed. 

Conducting a team analysis will allow you to:

  • Effectively apply the team’s efforts (both at a team and individual level)
  • Identify potential skill gaps within teams
  • Learn what characteristics make someone a good fit for specific teams 
  • Understand why some team members perform certain tasks better than others?

 

Based on all of the above you’ll be able to effectively determine which job requirements are must-have and which are nice-to-haves for every role you’re hiring for. After all, different teams and roles have different requirements and this is important to consider. For example, in some roles having a high problem-solving ability is a must e.g. product roles, whereas in other roles it is not as important. 

Job Analysis

Job analysis is the process of identifying the tasks, skills, responsibilities, objectives, and work environment for a specific job position. Most of the time job analysis is used to create the perfect job description with the hopes of attracting, selecting, and eventually hiring the best possible candidate.

Here are a few reasons why you should be conducting job analysis when determining job requirements

  1. In order to hire a good person for the job.
  2. To identify existing skill and job behavior gaps.
  3. To match job-specifications with employee specifications while selecting an employee.
  4. To improve employee onboarding AND offboarding experience.
  5. Improved career path planning.
  6. To improve overall candidate selection process.

How to define job requirements?

Writing up the perfect Job Description

The job descriptions are the very first impression the candidates get about your company. They are the key piece in every company’s hiring strategy and are especially valuable to communicate your employer brand. If written badly, job descriptions can leave negative consequences on the composition of your candidate pool. 

One glance at the job description and it might end up that people are not willing to apply because:

  • They feel as if they are not good enough for the role (because they are too many requirements listed.
  • Do not fit the company culture.
  • Your job advertisement just lacks information.
  • Your job advertisement includes WAY too much information.
 
Things that are a must-have to include:
  1. Title
  2. Role summary
  3. Duties and responsibilities
  4. Job Requirements

 

Read more about 5 things to keep in mind when writing your next job description here!

Examples of good job requirements

Make your job descriptions perfect with Equalture

We know how hard it is to get job descriptions right. And we also know that 88% of hirers are still filtering out highly-suitable candidates just because they lack traditional credentials (be it higher educational degrees or professional certifications).

This urgently needs to change. 

After all, there are so many other aspects that will impact whether or not a prospective candidate will be the best fit for your role. 

The good news? Equalture can help!

Get in touch with us & we’ll be more than glad to tell you how!

Cheers, Anete.

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