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Recruitment problems? It starts with the advert

Two hands shaking in agreement cqi quality recruitment
Published: 27 Jan 2023

With 67% of respondents to the CQI’s Workforce Insight research saying they had struggled to recruit for quality and audit roles, it has never been more important for job adverts to hit their target. Mark Walsh CQP MCQI, an IRCA lead auditor and director at Q-Sys Solutions, highlights some common pitfalls, and how to avoid them. 

In the CQI’s Workforce Insights survey, the results of which were released last year, 67% of respondents responsible for recruiting said they had found it tough to recruit sufficiently competent people to quality or audit roles. 

The survey dives into the data so I will not revisit the specifics of it here, but I do want to focus on another aspect of the recruitment process that was not necessarily captured by that survey. 

Let’s take that figure of 67% and assume that most, if not all, wrote the job advertisement – or at least the job description – themselves, knowing exactly the profile of the candidate they were going to target for a particular recruitment campaign.

"I've listened to my peers struggling to fill roles because 'nobody matched the profile.' 'Nobody' is quite a statement. Perhaps it's a good time to look at your expectations."

Mark Walsh CQP MCQI, Director at Q-Sys Solutions

Now if these quality professionals struggled to recruit, what about the organisations that had given the responsibility of advertising positions to people with questionable experience of, or in, the quality field? It is also fair to assume that they, too, would struggle to recruit for quality-related positions. 

As I alluded to, there is another reason, outside of those captured in the survey, why I believe the quality roles go unfilled for so long. The answer is the quality of the job advertisements and/or job descriptions themselves. 

Getting it wrong 

I often have quality-related job roles appear across my social media feeds. On occasion, some of them are so poorly thought out and written that I tend to share my opinion by highlighting where I believe the advertisement is, in all actuality, discouraging potentially suitable candidates from even applying.   

Here, I’ll share a recent example (one of many):

The job title was quality document controller. Ok, so far, so good. I have come across such a position before, albeit under a slightly different title. Before reading the job description in full, I assumed that the candidate would be responsible for tracking quality-related document submissions and revisions, ensuring documents are reviewed, comments addressed and signed off in a timely manner (usually a contractually defined timeframe to ensure project progress isn’t hampered) and uploading to a database or portal of some kind. 

When I opened the job spec, the reality was somewhat different and a prime example of my case-in-point. Here are just a few of the responsibilities expected of the ‘quality document controller’: 

  • perform inspections (these were undefined, so who knows what needs inspecting?);

  • perform audits (no details were given on whether these are internal or external, or the scope, criteria, and so on); 

  • conduct supply chain gap analysis (many document controllers are supply chain experts, right?);

  • support the design of the new processes in cooperation with the head of… (at this point, the ‘head’ was missing). 

In this instance, I draw two conclusions: 

  • The job description and advert had been written by a recruitment professional (could be an agency, could be HR) with little or no knowledge of quality management, based on a Google search along the lines of ‘what do quality management people do?’ 

  • It was written by the ‘Head of……’, or their delegated authority, who doesn’t know what they want. Instead, they put everything on the table and then hope that someone comes along to fill the role. 

Getting it right 

With all that said, my advice when advertising roles is to first understand who you want. Articulate that in the advert and don’t be afraid to be very specific – but also be realistic. 

The example I shared here is very specific, but is it realistic to expect a document controller to have the required skills and experience sought? 

In my experience as a hiring manager, I have found suitable candidates within days of advertising because the advert was specific and realistic. I knew what I wanted and whether the people with the skills and experience I needed on my team even existed. 

I’ve listened to my peers struggling to fill roles because “nobody matched the profile”. ‘Nobody’ is quite a statement. Perhaps it’s a good time to look again at your expectations.  

If you’re working with legacy documents, revisit them and make sure they are current. What you need today may not be what your predecessor, or even theirs, needed.  

If you work with a third party, whether internally or externally, make sure they are placing quality (no pun intended) adverts. Better still, do a little quality control before the ad goes live. 

Of course, compromises will almost always have to be made during the recruitment process, but let’s at least give our profession a fighting chance by putting out quality (no pun intended… again) job adverts. 

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