Two Words That Make Me Shudder

Job Description

These two words still send a minor shudder down my spine even though my whole career revolves around this document and I deal with them daily.  There has been much written about how job descriptions are ineffective, too lengthy and unrealistic and yet it is the key document that managers, Human Resources and Recruiters use to screen candidates and determine who is eligible to join their organization.  Job seekers rely on them to write or tweak their resumes and determine if they are a potential fit with the organization they are interested in joining.  However, there is much disdain towards this document and how it is the core problem with recruitment processes and practices.

Every company is different in how they approach the writing of job descriptions.  Some are standardized for all roles and others have them written every time a position is to be filled.  I am not sure what the best approach is because of the varying needs and types of roles to be filled by each company.  In my opinion whether the description is standardized or created every time a position opens, the best route to understand the true needs of the role is the kick-off meeting with the hiring manager.

It has been my experience that if I thoroughly review the position and description with the manager, one of two things will happen.  I will verify what is in the document or I will learn what is posted is not a correct representation and that knowledge will determine my recruitment strategy.  If recruiters accept the descriptions at face value and do not seek additional information or push back on the wish list created by a manager then we cannot effectively perform our roles.

At the same time we cannot just dismiss the descriptions because at the core they do have the essential skills, requirements and qualifications before all the other fluff was added to hopefully attract the “ideal” candidate.  A quality kick-off discussion that encompasses the key deliverables within the first 90 – 120 days, what are must have and nice to have skills, and how does the role impact the team and business will help a recruiter set their plan and better identify the most qualified candidates.

In future posts I will share how and what I am doing to help improve the writing of job descriptions and their use.  But in the meantime, no matter how many times you have filled a role, conduct a kick-off meeting for every position you are recruiting against.  It will significantly improve your knowledge of what is needed, how to better identify who is needed and make you a much more effective recruiter.  By doing so you will move your company one small step forward.

I welcome your thoughts.



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2 responses to “Two Words That Make Me Shudder

  1. Mark,

    The biggest problem I have with Job Descriptions is that 99.999% of recruiters copy and paste it as their job posting. BORING!

    How are you supposed to attract top-notch, rockstar employees with a job description that puts them to sleep.

    The 2 best job descriptions I’ve ever seen:
    – Via Kris Dunn at HR Capitalist:
    – Via Sam Davidson at Cool People Care:



    • Chris,

      Agreed. In my situation it is a system limitation where the posting is the description. Long story. Keep an eye out for my future posts when I address the points you raised.

      Thanks again for the comments and links – great stuff.


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