Why The Job Description Is Where Dreams Go To Die

The way we promote jobs is all wrong. We should be drawing people in, beating the company drum, and showing candidates what’s waiting on the inside. We should be differentiating our companies, shaping candidate expectations, and doing a better job at explaining why our jobs are worth having.

Far too many companies push out job descriptions like they are a list of demands – or a list of years added to a prison sentence. We should be activating hearts and souls but instead, we depress the whole body. And this is how we say “hello, come and join our company”?

It's important to include necessary details required to succeed in the job. But, what does it matter whether someone has seven years or ten years experience with a specific skill? Seven or ten? At this point, a person can either do the job or they can’t.

Occasionally, we run across a job description that sells the company and the dream – and frames the job to appeal to the right people. But they are few and far between. Honestly, when was the last time you were excited about a job (because of) the job description?

Job descriptions should sell our jobs and our dreams. But far too many don't. Instead, they are where dreams go to die.

What if the only way to promote an open circus job was to stand on the street corner and yell “I have a juggler job and I'm pay what everyone else pays. Don’t approach me unless you have been juggling for seven or ten years in another circus environment. Carney folk (and recruiters) stay away!”

Now what would you think if you saw another circus manager across the street yelling “Want to work for the best company on Earth? I run a 60 person circus and need a juggler with enough experience to add real value to our team. We travel around the world and everyone enjoys doing what they do. Come join our team and help us make the whole world smile.”

Putting salary aside, which sales pitch do you think would be more interesting to jugglers within earshot? Most would agree that the second option would be more attractive.

This unlikely example above gets to the central problem of most job descriptions. We would never knowingly create a pitch that is average - or doesn’t stand out. But we do this every day with the job description. Most companies place the emphasis on the wrong stuff.

Maybe its because of the way potential candidates are forced to enter job requisition data on the admin side of the ATS. Or maybe, because some recruiters think of themselves as “hunters”, they believe posting jobs are simply placeholders, or like “farming”, and therefore don’t care about writing compelling job content. Maybe it’s simply too difficult to craft compelling content that sells the job and the company. Or maybe the real issue has more to do with belief and hope.

Too many companies have gotten too comfortable with the idea that job descriptions don’t work. They don’t believe in them anymore. And since they don’t believe in them, they don’t try to fix them. Instead, they quickly fill their job descriptions with a few features and generalities, or the obligatory list of banal, self-important demands. But job descriptions can, and do, work - if we're willing to make them into something that actually works.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein

If you're struggling to attract more people to apply, take a moment and ask yourself the following:

  • Why is our company special? You should do more than list a bunch of bullet points to motivate people to invest their time, effort, and treasure in our companies. You need to consider all the many reasons your best performing people stay in the company and use what you find to sell the company, culture, people, and job.
  • Why should people want to work here? What is it about your company and culture that keeps people fully engaged and committed and willing to stay? Why should someone be willing to invest a chunk of their career life into your company? What will they get in return for it? (Hint: It needs to be more than a pay check and better include access great managers). What will their time working inside your company set them up to do and be in the future?

Most people who work care deeply about improving their own skills, abilities, performance, and lives over time. Sure, they might need the money and the job, but what they also want is an experience that improves their life - both at work and at home - in some meaningful way. Generally speaking, they want to work for a company that embraces growth and helps them become better - not worse - in exchange for their time spent with your company. On top of that, most - but not all - want to understand, even agree with, the heart and soul of your business.

We can all do better…

Reframe the job descriptions. Use the moment to share with others what makes your company special. Explain why people should want to work at your company. The job description is valuable ad real estate and should be used with care. Let's face it, if you were promoting a juggling job and heard the other sales pitch across the street, wouldn't even you be the slightest bit interested? 

Take your talent acquisition and recruitment efforts from routine to remarkable with TalentSum 360. For more information on how TalentSum 360 can unlock the full potential of your talent function, get in touch with our team today.

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