Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What The Job Requirements REALLY Mean

It's amazing that in this day and age hiring managers and HR staff still use generic terms when advertising their internal positions. Some of the terms used are really just fluff, and purely subjective, meaning that if you asked 10 people what they meant you would undoubtedly receive 10 different answers.

If you really think about it you'd have to wonder why anyone would want to work for a company that required their employees to be self-motivated, flexible, creative and able to multi-task in a fast passed and dynamic environment. The picture that is painted in my mind is that you'll be air lifted onto an ocean tanker with a belly full of oil in the middle of the North Atlantic just after it ran into an iceberg and you are responsible for saving the oil as well as your corporate bosses from legal/environmental liability. As you watch the helicopter that dropped you melt into the horizon the first mate reports that most power systems and all external communication systems are lost. I guess if you are the kind of person who likes to be in a continual state of emergency without any lifelines this seemingly would be the perfect position.

In stark contrast, the following description would be far more enticing. "We provide a work environment that offers you the time, training, freedom and flexibility to create something extraordinary for our clients, coworkers and most importantly, yourself."
A job posting is an advertisement for the company and should be written with at least as much care and attention as any other client facing document. The posting should engage anyone who reads it so they would feel motivated to respond and, if not selected, would feel obligated to tell others how great your company is. Of course, in order to really pull this off and have prospective employees clamoring at your door you would have to use the standard defined in the latter job description and create that environment.

What message do these common job posting terms really convey to prospective employees?

Multi Task - We aren't able to do any one thing well (Sure! I can drive while reading, shaving, eating and calling you as long as auto insurance is not a requirement)
Flexible - Your time is our time. We need you to be able to drop what you are doing and do something different most of the time.
Self-motivated - Motivate yourself! We don't like what we are doing either!
Creative - We haven't yet developed systems, processes and resources for this position - you're on your own.
Passionate - We can't seem to convince anyone to believe in what WE do
Fast paced - We are running in many different directions all at the same time
Dynamic environment - No sooner than the team starts to gel and deliver results we'll mix things up again.

What do these job description terms mean to you? Or feel free to add your own.