The job description is an outdated relic and fossil from the past. It’s boring, drab, cliché-ridden and lacks creativity. These features are not even the worst elements. Job descriptions are inherently biased, discriminatory, cause more problems for companies than solutions and have serious adverse consequences.
While most every aspect of human resources, recruiting and the hiring process has rapidly evolved and improved over the years, the job description has been frozen in time. It hasn’t changed in 50 years.
Here are just some of the reasons why I find job advertisements, especially in today’s tight job market, problematic and detrimental:
- The ad always includes the years of experience required. It could be anywhere from 3 to 5 or 7 to 10 years. What if there is a very smart and capable person with only 3 years of experience applying to an ad calling for 7 to 10 years? They won’t get recognized. We have all had the privilege of being in the company of a young person who is amazingly brilliant, possesses an abundance of talent and is super driven. Why should that person be barred from consideration? She may have better skills to do the job than someone with the right amount of years, but is now complacent, ornery, cynical, thinks they know everything, lacks energy and drive.
- The opposite also happens. How many times do you see a job advertisement calling for candidates with 30 years of experience? How about never? It isn’t even subtle. It’s pure ageism. If a job states that the range is anything under 25 years of experience, it really means that nobody over the age of 40 should bother applying. They are basically saying, “They’re not wanted here. We only want younger—less expensive—employees; thank you very much!”
- Is college always mandatory? If so, why? Is it that everyone who holds a university degree is inherently smarter than someone who either didn’t finish college or has hands-on experience in the space that the firm is hiring for?
- The bullet points have gotten way out of control. It’s common to see 10, 20, 30 or more required skills listed on the ad. How is that reasonable and logical? Even if you are an expert in a field, what are the odds that you possess over 30 of the required demands?
- The ads are dry, boring and lack creativity. There is no soul or life to them. Companies should use their job advertisements to market themselves. This piece of writing should sell a candidate on why the company is respected, the boss is terrific to work for, as well as all of the great things the prospective employee will be involved with, the exciting intellectual challenges and wonderful career growth opportunities available. It should be the place where a person reads the ad and wants to learn more about the company because they are engaged and motivated. Instead, it bores people to tears.
- Rather than being pedantic, riddled with corporate jargon and buzzwords and using internal terminology unfamiliar to anyone outside the company, the ad should be an exciting experience to read in plain English.
- It gets worse. Have you ever noticed the job ad for a tech company? It’s usually accompanied by pictures of young, cool, hip twenty-somethings wearing jeans, hoodies and funky outfits. You’ll never—and I’m not exaggerating—see a person over the age of 50. You can forget about someone in their 60s in these pictures. What does that tell you about the company’s view of older workers? We know the answer—they don’t want them to feel comfortable applying.
- It goes the other direction too. When the wording states, “We want someone with 10 years of solid experience, management, maturity, strong in-depth knowledge of the industry and so on,” it’s really saying, “We don’t want you annoying Millennials. Go somewhere else.”
- How come the reason for the opening is not disclosed? Shouldn’t we demand, in full transparency, what happened? Was the prior person fired? What about the person before him? Was she fired too or did she quit? Is the job a revolving door? Why don’t we learn anything about the manager? Personally, I’d like to know his or her management style, temperament, reputation and job history before applying.
- The company should also come clean. Are they planning to relocate jobs in the near future? Are there any internal or external events or issues that can hurt the firm’s competitiveness and standing, which will result in a poor financial performance and threaten the safety of jobs at the firm? How is the organization viewed within the industry? Is it viewed as unethical or does it embrace good business practices and support social causes?
- Have you noticed that salaries are often suspiciously absent? If they are stated, the compensation appears far lower than the demands required. Did you ever have the experience where you read a job description, saw the salary and thought they are paying too much for the job? No, I haven’t either.
I’m going on a little tangent now. I have an interesting approach to writing. I get an idea in my head and it won’t leave until I write about it. It’s easier for me to write a piece than be plagued by the concept of the article distracting me all day long. Then, I write in a burst of energy. So, now I’m cooling down after getting things off my chest. I’d like share why this hurts everyone involved.
The content for job advertisement needs to change now. The unintended consequences are that too many people are left out of the process feeling alienated, which prevents them from applying. They believe that they’re too young, too old or don’t possess the laundry list of requirements. Many of these people could actually be the company’s star performers, but we’ll never know since they’ve been discouraged from applying. These people lose out on what may have been a career-making move, while the company misses out on their next future CEO. A bigger irony is that the people who do apply are the ones who don’t have any of the requirements and fire off résumés to everyone. Corporate executives then have the nerve to complain about how they are unable to attract top talent.