Job Descriptions Don’t Have to be Boring

Job descriptions are the weakest link in marketing jobs.  They are filled with legal jargon and loaded with desires and qualifications that no one has in full.  Why we use them boggles the mind, and when I ask recruiters why the answer I get is that they are required by HR, compensation, or the law.

Automobile dealers are required by law to place a document that completely describes the features and equipment and estimated gas mileage on the window of every car. But they do not use this for advertising the car or attracting customers. The customer can examine that window sticker whenever they wish, but it is not the primary attractor. Caned and packed food must list all the ingredients on the label. Many other products have similar requirements. But none of them use those lists to promote or advertise their products.

Can you imagine a highly skilled professional who is in high demand reading these arcane descriptions? They need a message that is attractive and straightforward providing information about the work you want them to do. They don’t need or want lists of requirements or needed qualifications.

The picture below is part of a job description. I have edited it for anonymity and shortened it a bit, but it is typical.  I am sure that the descriptions of the qualifications and responsibilities are comprehensive and accurate, but it does not attract.  It fails in three ways. First of all, the job title does not tell me anything about what I might do if I had this position. It may be the required title, but it has no excitement or appeal.  Second, the qualifications precede any information about what I would be doing if I had this position. Third, the responsibilities are a laundry list of things, including jargon and meaningless acronyms.

There is no passion, no excitement, and no reason that anyone would look at it. Even less likely in a market where talent is scarce and candidates have many choices.

E-Servicing Leader
· 5+ years of experience in financial services/IT · General technical knowledge of the Internet and related technologies · Extensive understanding and experience using Quality Designed for Six Sigma Methodology (DFSSM) · History of delivering results through rapid and focused implementation efforts · Experience managing projects with Microsoft Project · Demonstrated understanding of the operational and technical aspects of servicing environments and call centers · Experience in sourcing teams through partnering, outsourcing and recruiting, including contract negotiations · Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with all levels of business leadership · Capability of being self-directed and working well under pressure · Bachelors Degree or equivalent experience
· Develop servicing strategies and deliverables for Worksite customers: Agents/ERS/EES via the Internet · Identify and drive the use of new technologies for servicing our customers online · Work with the E-Technology and E-Servicing groups to create standards  · Facilitate connections from the web environment into Worksite Call Centers .  Drive team-building, commitment with the businesses
· Experience in Insurance and Investment operations · Experience in the Financial Services industry · Experience in Information Technology
We offer a competitive salary, outstanding benefits package and the professional advantages of an environment that supports your development and recognizes your achievements. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Please do not use the Respond Online button when applying for this position. Send your resume to: xxxx

I am reminded of a cartoon I saw sometime back where a man in a coat and tie is shown sitting at his desk, and the cartoon bubble says: “I process insurance claims.”  The other panel shows a person dressed like Superman lifting an elderly woman into her husband’s arms. In his other hand, he is holding a check, and the bubble says: “I help victims of fire and burglary get their lives back on track!”  What a difference this makes in attracting someone to a profession. Excitement and a bit of humour.

Recruiting is a marketing function, as I have written about several times. As part of our efforts to improve the recruiting function, we need to change how we write job descriptions. We can include links to the legal job description without using them as the primary way to attract candidates.

Each marketing message can have a link to the details and legal description of the job. There is no valid reason to not make the description exciting, attractive, and candid.

Tip #1:  Be Creative

Be creative and work hard to make the description truly describe what the person will be contributing.  Add a little humour.  Here is a snippet from a job description for a manufacturer of snowboards that is both humorous and exciting.

“Xxx continues to be the industry leader, focusing its efforts on product development, R&D, and most importantly – riding. Everyone is out on the hill as much as possible. And with a free season pass to xxxx Mountain Resort and private lessons for Newbies, excuses for not riding are hard to find.”

If I am a snow enthusiast, I’m getting interested now.  Job descriptions don’t have to be legal documents.  They are not the same as the list of ingredients on the side of the bottle.  Rather they are advertisements for what’s in the bottle.  Imagine if product marketing and advertising were as dull as job descriptions.

Tip #2:  Tell them what they will be doing all day

No one is attracted to a list of duties and responsibilities.  They can sound daunting and overwhelming.  Put in a narrative that might describe a day-in-the-life of an employee doing this job.  Point out the job’s impact on the firm’s profits or sales. Add a video clip that shows someone doing the job talking about it.  Think about using a photo or a drawing.

Tip #3:  Make them interactive or allow some form of response

As more and more job descriptions go online, the opportunity to allow interested job seekers to ask questions or to respond to questions you ask increases.  Why not ask candidates to take a short quiz to see if they have the understanding or skills to do a particular job?  Microsoft and Texas Instruments, for example, offer job “fit” tests to help candidates see if they would be happy at the company or at doing a particular job.

Tip #4:  Get the advertising or public relations firm you use involved in writing job descriptions

Avoid acronyms and mysterious terminology that only insiders can understand.  Test your job descriptions by asking your friends and family if they can make sense of them and if they generate any excitement or interest at all.  And keep revising them until they do!

This takes time and creativity, but recruiting should be about attracting the best talent and building relationships, not processing applications and focusing on administrative tasks. A well-written, exciting job description is the first step in attracting the best.

This post originally appeared in the Future of Talent newsletter and has been republished here with permission.

Cover image: Shutterstock

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