If I Were Running A Company…Abolishing the Job Description

There has been a lot of talk recently about job descriptions and almost all of them are not favorable. You can read the sample of the hatred job descriptions here and here.

I agree with most of the blog posts that job descriptions are long, restricted, and don’t describe the realities of the job. Sometimes it’s a pain to read these job descriptions and to be fair, I’m guilty of it myself.

What I don’t agree with is the “job description 2.0” is the next best thing. Yes, everything is going mobile, video, and big data, but does that really tell about the job? If the company is purely telecommuting, then yes. However, most of the jobs out there have you commuting to a physical building. Video and mobile only works if the person does not have the time going to the place. Although video and mobile job descriptions are the next step, it can be still manipulated because the organization still controls the content on what you are seeing.

So what to do with job descriptions? Let’s admit what job descriptions are: minimal requirements for the job. They are not supposed to give a realistic view of the job because people interpret job descriptions differently. It’s a low barrier entry so it can attract “qualified” candidates. That is why it is important you go above and beyond on your resume/Linkedin profile and cover letter to get the recruiter/hiring manager’s attention and I don’t mean pictures or fancy fonts.

So what is the best method to build a job description? Two words: Open House!

Open house covers so many things about recruiting: meeting face-to-face with potential employees, going to their offices and see the inter-workings of the company and your department, you have a list of people who attend the event and can source them, and prospects can ask questions about the job and the company on the spot.

Before graduating college, I attended an open house for NPR for an HR internship in the summer. I did meet with recruiters at my college job fair, but going to their building and see their operations that made me think, “Yeah, I want to work here.” A few months later, I got the internship.

The downside of an open house is it takes time and effort to execute it. My recommendation is doing it 3-4 times a year. If you have a single office shared by other companies in the building, collaborate with them to have a building open house so people can visit other companies in that building.

Should job descriptions need to be abolished? No. Think of job descriptions as a form of media. Movies and televisions are supposed to entertain at your own home or local movie theatres. That is what most job descriptions are: attract you to apply. If you want a realistic job description, go take the stage and see the craftsmanship of the work first hand. That is the best job description.

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