By John Worne

Many public bodies and long-service organisations create high hurdles to new joiners. 

Unintentionally; often. But on the comparatively rare occasions general management jobs go ‘external’, job descriptions, shortlisting and recruitment panels often focus on too many ‘essential’ characteristics, highly sector specific knowledge and directly ‘relevant’ experience. 

As a result capable outsiders, newcomers, representative diversity and younger people are often screened out.

Selection panels, application sifting and competence based processes promote ‘fairness’, but can favour ‘insiders’ who know the vocabulary, the jargon, the ‘house’ or sector style.

Many JDs are written to describe perfection – men and women ‘for all seasons’. As HBR reminds us today, the purpose of recruitment is to attract and develop talent, not screen it out or scare it off. 

If public bodies want diversity, new ideas, change or talent, a good start is to make recruitment forms and processes more forgiving – it’s important to look at the person as well as the ‘person specification’.

Equally though, any Specialist-Generalist who expects to be hired for their wide range of ‘comparable’ experience in another sector – beware. There’s no point bemoaning this.

Find a knowledgeable friend, learn a bit about the key issues, shadow or spend a day with someone who works in the sector or your target organisation and get some of the language and some salient ‘talking points’.

Absent prep you will likely fall at the first hurdle.

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