Job descriptions that don't suck

You’ve got an open position. Ever wonder why the resumes you’re getting don’t really fit with what you’re looking for? It may be because your job description sucks.

Meaningless corporate buzzwords are turning your job descriptions into pointless information voids. “But,” you say, “That description is pretty standard and it was approved by human resources, legal and a committee of managers!” And many qualified people are looking over the many, many words that say nothing and not bothering to apply. “I can’t even get through this job description,” they’re saying, “how could I possibly sit through this job eight hours a day?”

drowning in paperwork

Make your job descriptions mean something — tell people, as specifically as possible, what they’ll actually be expected to do if they’re hired. What a novel idea. With that in mind, here are a few things to avoid if you don’t want your job description to suck:

* “Build relationships,” “manage relationships” and “collaborate.” Nearly every single job ever includes relationship building and collaboration. This is not noteworthy. If a job includes a great deal of interaction with senior leadership to ensure their happiness, say that. If someone will be bridging the communications gap between departments to make sure project goals are accomplished from start to finish, say that.

* “Complete X in a timely manner.” A list of job duties will suffice. If they need to be completed on a tight deadline on a regular basis, say that. Everything needs to be accomplished in a timely manner. I need to get my wet laundry out of the washing machine in a timely manner.

* “Maintaining websites and/or utilizing social media.” There are so many different ways to maintain a website, be specific. Are you looking for a coder, a designer, a content provider? Those are all very different skill sets. And most people “utilize” social media for one reason or another. If you want to keep personal Facebook time to a minimum, you should mention what social media outlets you’d like people to be well versed in and, generally, for what purpose the company would like to use those outlets.

* “Audits of workflow processes…” blah, blah, blah. You want to know if what you’re doing and the way you’re doing it works. You’re hiring someone to evaluate that. Enough said.

The more specific and honest you can be in your job descriptions, the better quality candidates you’ll attract and retain. We’ve all been romanced by innocuous-sounding (or even rosy) job descriptions only to discover they don’t truly represent the job we were hired to do. And we don’t stick around. Be straightforward and authentic with your needs and expectations and follow through. Your (well-qualified) employees will thank you for it.