It is no wonder companies say they can’t find good talent. The vast majority haven’t figured out how to write a good job description. That means more work for the job seeker. And companies receiving hundreds of supposedly “unqualified” applicants.
Lou Adler, CEO and founder of The Adler Group — a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based hiring, has written a collection of posts on ERE about using performance based hiring criteria. I was initially drawn to Adler for his Anti-Resume movement. (FYI, I hate resumes!) In my little old opinion, we’ve come to far today to rely on a stupid piece of paper. There are much better ways to prove your value.
My favorite of Adler’s posts is “Recruiters Must Demand Their Hiring Manager Prepare Performance-based Job Descriptions. ” Let’s get thinking- how can companies get better at hiring the right talent and as a by-product, how can we get more people back to work?!
And let me confess, I am not a recruiter nor a certified HR professional. I have done my share of hiring and recruiting in the various roles I’ve held over time. However, it is often the insights of those outside an area of expertise that can critique the process. Let’s all agree that it can be done much better!
Furthermore, I don’t believe there is an overall shortage of talent. Sure, there are some very specific areas where this is an issue. But for the majority of jobs, it is my belief that companies just don’t know how to describe what they are looking for. And that finding transferrables or comparable experience is more difficult to identify, especially for those who are not trained or skilled in doing this. It takes time and effort and many companies or people just don’t have these.
Lou Adler’s 5 S Method
Let’s use performance measures instead of skills and requirements contends Adler. In his ERE article, “Why We Should Banish Job Descriptions and Resumes“, Adler proposes using the answers in these 5 measurement areas:
Though he doesn’t go into detail, just imagine a company defined the job by completing these answers?
This Isn’t A Check Box Process
Hiring the right person for the job is hard work and risky. But companies can and must reduce that risk by answering the really difficult questions. Here’s what Adler asked one President:
Then I calmly suggested that what he was describing was the description of a person, not the description of a job. This drew a momentary pause and with the temporary opening I asked, what’s the most important thing the person you’re hiring for this position needs to do in order for you and the Board to unanimously agree you’ve hired a great person? He hesitated at first, and repeated the list of requirements, but I pushed him again with the same question, suggesting he put the person description in the parking lot and first define on-the-job success.
The president hesitated again, and after a few minutes said something like, “well now that’s a really good question.” …
Or let’s make it even simpler. Can a job description answer this question: “What does success look like?”
Job Descriptions SUCK
Either the copy and paste variety or the templeted version- you’ve seen them. They show very little thought or detail about what the job really requires. When companies just rattle off a list of desired or required skills they do little to help the applicant understand what, why and how! To prove my point, here are just a couple of snips of the thousands of stinky job descriptions out there.
This job description is a “sponsored post” on a major job board. You would think that if a company is willing to pay the extra money for this ad that it would be better.
This posting comes from a recruiting agency that wants to add to their own operational staff. You would expect better from a company that does recruiting and hiring for other companies?
How about this job for an Admin Assistant? I have no clue who PCA and WA Segment Leaders are! Can this even be considered a job description? And it doesn’t get any better after this.
Job Seekers, Take Note
It is extremely difficult to respond to a job description without sufficient details about the goals and objectives of the job and therefore match up your accomplishments. This is really too bad for companies. But, it will continue to be the norm until more companies are ready to embrace a different kind of hiring. So here are some take-aways for you:
- Write and speak about your related performance success.
- Read in-between the the lines of the job description. What problems do they have that you can solve?
- Applying to any new job (either inside or outside your industry) requires research
- Develop all kinds of proof that you have performed your job well! (online portfolio, robust LinkedIn profile, recommendations, etc.)
I would love to see the worst job description you’ve come across. Please add it to a comment below!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.