There's both an art and a science to writing job orders. The
science involves information: getting a description of the position, the
selling points of the job, the company's sense of urgency, and an idea
of where to look for candidates.
The art has to do with gathering all this information quickly while
building a rapport with the hiring manager and nailing down a fee
In theory, each new job order would read like a Michelin travel guide: a
detailed roadmap of the position, the work environment, the manager, the
company, the industry, the salary, the reporting relationships, and so
But in reality, it's unrealistic-and impractical-to get a huge amount of
detail, especially in your first conversation with a new client. I've
found that even the most patient employers tend to get fidgety after
about 20 or 30 minutes.
So, my approach is to keep the job order-and the worksheet I use to
gather information'simple. I try to hit the major points and get the
most data possible in the least amount of time. That way, I can get a
snapshot of the employer's needs, evaluate the quality of the
assignment, and in the process, prepare a list of follow-up questions to
Hit the Major Points
If you work from your job order checklist too literally, the sheer
volume of questions might make it sound as if you're putting the
employer on trial. To keep things short and sweet, a typical first-round
sequence of questions may sound something like this:
Mr. Employer, to better understand the job and my ability to help you,
let me take you through a very brief series of questions. Are you ready?
First, tell me why the job is open. What problem do you want the person
to solve? Isn't there anyone on staff who can do this? I mean, what
would happen if you couldn't find the right person for the job?
You say you've been trying to fill the position for several weeks. How
many people have you interviewed? Where did you find them? And you never
reached the point of making an offer? How come?
What sort of compensation package did you have in mind? Is that what
you're paying other people in a similar capacity? And you're finding
qualified candidates in that price range?
If you don't mind, I want to play devil's advocate for a moment. Why
would someone quit a perfectly good job and go to work for your company?
So, let me see if I understand the situation. If I found a qualified
candidate and we scheduled an interview for next week, and there was
mutual interest, you could make a competitive offer and have that person
start in about two to three weeks.
Great. Now let me take care of a little business. I charge a placement
fee for my service, which will be due once the candidate I refer accepts
your offer of employment. We'll discuss the exact amount of the fee in a
moment, but once we agree to the terms, I'm going to send you an
agreement to sign and fax back before I can begin the search. Do you
have the authority to sign an agreement and pay a fee? Excellent.
See how it's done? You hit the major points first to qualify the job
order. Once the job's been qualified, you can go back and fill in the
blanks, with additional information about the company, the specifics on
the technical skills or experience needed, what the short and long term
results would be if the person did a superlative job, who the person
reports to or supervises, how much travel is involved, what the hiring
process is, and all that good stuff.
An artful job order interview not only allows for a more objective
evaluation of the company style's needs; it also puts the employer at
ease by starting a conversation-not an interrogation.