A carefully crafted vacancy announcement pays off


In recruitment, the principle “garbage in, garbage out” applies. That is, if you carelessly churn out vacancy announcements that are poorly written and do not reflect the true demands of your office’s openings, your selection process is unlikely to be efficient or produce a successful hire.

By contrast, if you carefully craft a reader-friendly vacancy announcement that accurately and comprehensively conveys the demands of the opening, the selection process is likely to be easier and more successful.

This principle is demonstrated by two efforts that were used to recruit a manager of a federal communications department who would supervise more than 10 communicators.

Because the first effort was based on a vague, generic announcement that did not accurately reflect the demands of the opening, it drew a large but mediocre applicant pool. The considerable time and effort needed to whittle down this large applicant pool was for naught: The agency hired a recruit who was unable to meet the supervisory demands of the job and was transferred to another position.

Once the job was vacant again, the second recruitment effort was launched. This time, managers carefully crafted a vacancy announcement to reflect the anticipated demands of the job and the skills needed.

The announcement attracted a relatively small number of excellent applications that were quickly processed. And a talented manager was hired who is currently thriving in the job.

Lily Whiteman is a public affairs officer at the National Science Foundation and author of “How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job.’’ Her Web site is IGotTheJob.net. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent the views of the National Science Foundation.


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