2013-04-30
Those of you who received my newsletters last year will recall that in our salary survey an interesting fact that we found out is that 85% of you once qualified as actuaries find yourselves by design or otherwise in people management roles.  In this capacity it’s likely that at some point or another you will also have the responsibility for hiring staff. All too often I get calls from individuals who are inclined to give me either a verbal description of the sort of person they are looking for or a very short paragraph. Whilst the verbal description is very important and gives recruiters like me a very good sense of what you want to see in your prospective employee the job specification is what the potential applicant will initially concentrate on and this is effectively your chance to sell both the role and company.  Focusing on the written spec there are some fundamentals that each job specification should cover as follows: The Organisation: A brief summary of the organisation to include a sense of plans for the future and an idea of the culture.  Include a link to the company website. The structure: Candidates want to know how the role fits into the existing team showing the reporting line, peers and subordinates.  Actuaries, trainee actuaries and even student actuaries like to see what the progression might be within the organisation and an explanation for the level of the role.  This will enable the potential employee to evaluate whether the role is at the right level for them.  Actuaries in particular are very careful about what roles they will or won’t go forward - you are natural risk assessors and apply the same principles to your own situations. The role itself: A paragraph to describe the function of the role followed by 5 or 6 objectives that the new employee will be measured against in the role.  Of course here you need to include a catch all line such as “other duties as may be required by the company? to ensure that you don’t prevent any flexibility in duties or misunderstanding when there are changes in organisational structure etc.  It’s also useful  to include a line on possible future plans or goals for the department which will show candidates that there is room to develop in the role and possible challenging projects to come. Experience and skills needed to perform the duties of the position: Don’t be too specific here as candidates outside of a specific level of experience will be put off and could risk you losing out on some talented individuals.  In my experience as a recruiter you should state the ideal candidate profile but include a line to say that candidates who are near to the person specification may also be considered which in reality is usually the case.  Examine the situational fit factors which may include your management style, the companies leadership style, the company culture, and any other aspects of the job including the pace, the need for flexibility, possible resource limitations, and the quality of the team.  In my experience the overriding reason why an employer takes to one candidate over another is due to the candidate’s personal impact and the rapport they build as people in an interview situation given that candidates are at the same technical or qualification level.   One company’s perfect candidate is another company’s nightmare and the same applies to a candidate’s view of an employer. The salary and benefits. It’s normally a good idea not to include salary bands on job specs but it is useful to include the benefits given with the level.  If it’s a trainee level then most trainees are focused on whether there is a study package or not.  At the qualified level individuals are interested in what the pension contribution and family benefits are. Knowing what the benefits are will eliminate the difficult situation at the end of a process where an offer is made but when benefits are compared suddenly there is a shortfall and this can all be avoided if the facts are known up front. At the other end of the scheme too much information is also not recommended.  A rambling job spec that goes on for pages and pages can put applicants off just as easily.  Some job specs are the same ones that have been used for years with new managers adding to them which seems like a logical thing to do but recruiting a new employee gives you the opportunity to really look at the role and change it to suit the new situation.  Perhaps realise why a previous incumbent left the role if it’s a replacement hire then it’s an opportunity to refocus the areas that caused the upset in the first place.  Lastly there is a temptation to let the HR team put a spec together for your role – whilst there are very capable HR individuals out there most of them will not understand the inner workings of an actuarial role so by all means let them tweak the spec for issuing it out but at the end of the day the new hire is joining your team so if you want to see candidate cvs at the right level with the right skills then own the specification. If you need help to put a role specification together for an actuarial role then I would be happy to visit you at your office and help you go through it. Contact me at Jacqui.vanteutem@raretec.ie or on 01 5311400 or 086 293 1015.