Want to Recruit the Best Candidates? Ditch Those Routine Job Requirements

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Do you really care how much experience a candidate has if they can excel at getting the job done? Stop wasting space in your job descriptions and replace those routine requirements with performance objectives.

I recently was working with a hiring manager on a search. As we were going over the job description, he chimed in “4+ years of commercial software experience should probably be removed from the description.”

In reality, it wasn’t the precise time frame that mattered, but rather the candidate’s proven ability to produce quality production software in a Ruby-based language. Whether that meant the candidate for that particular position had two years or 15 years experience wasn’t important.

To me as a recruiter, that makes sense.

In a line from his recent post for TLNT titled “Want a Candidate to Succeed? Define What It Takes to Be Successful,” Lou Adler, President of training and consulting firm The Adler Group explains that when asked how much experience he thinks a person needs to be successful his answer is, “enough to do the work; some people need more; some need less; and the best people need the least.”

Why Defining Performance Objectives Is Vital

Unfortunately, many job descriptions list the competencies and skills, but not specific performance objectives. As a recruiter, you need to turn those competencies and skills around on the hiring manager. It is vital to define performance objectives and expected outcomes. This is important for two reasons:

  1. Those involved in the hiring process can interview and score candidates based on these performance objectives once they have been outlined.
  2. Recruiters/hiring managers can set performance expectations for the candidates. If a candidate does not know the performance objectives and expected outcomes, how can he or she be successful in the role?

Turn Routine Position Requirements into Meaningful Performance Objectives

How do you turn requirements and qualifications to meaningful performance objectives? For each search, recruiters and hiring managers should work together to determine the competencies, skills, and profiles that a top performer will need to be successful in the position. While creating this guide for your search, do a deeper dive into why each competency and skill is necessary to be successful.

Ask hiring managers these two questions:

  1. What specific performance objectives will a top performance achieve?
  2. What are the competencies and skills that a successful candidate will have based on these objectives?


  • Candidate should be highly analytical, metrics-driven
  • Performance Objective: Implement, manage, measure, and analyze marketing campaign performance and continuously refine programs for optimization and growth based on these results.
  • Process-oriented and experienced in defining processes and measures for scalability
  • Performance Objectives: Define and implement KPIs, and track trends on a monthly basis. Implement innovative operational models and enablement processes to ensure effective monitoring and management of sales process and operations.
  • Highly self-motivated and driven
  • Performance Objective: Make 75+ phone cold calls per day to major brands and retailers to build pipeline for the sales team. Meet/exceed quarterly individual metrics quota of 100K per month

The work that a person is responsible for in a specific role defines what skills and experience are necessary to succeed in the role. In recruiting, look beyond the work and into the successes that you expect this person to have in order to define the true skills, experience, and competencies for someone who will be successful in the role.

In order for a hire to be successful, clarify what successful means in your eyes.

Define these expectations with specific performance objectives that are expected to be achieved prior to beginning a talent search, and clarify these expectations with candidates throughout the hiring process.

Do you have any qualifications/requirements you need help turning into performance objectives? Let me know in the comments below.