Poor job descriptions challenge Cubicle Warriors

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Aug 27

When managing your career, there will come a day when you decide you need to change your position. Whether that decision is to stay with your company or to look for work at a different company, the first glimpse of a new position will be through the job description.

There are a few good job descriptions out there. But there are a lot of them to either avoid or apply with your eyes wide open. Here are three attributes of the job descriptions to avoid…

In searching for a job, recruiters will lament that the person they are calling about a job won’t even remember the position they applied for. My response to that is simple: there are so few remarkable job descriptions out there that they all blend into bland nothingness. Of course you won’t remember the job – the job description sucked.

Here are three deadly job description mistakes companies make:

Corporate Speak Job Descriptions

I really hate corporate speak. Yet, in the world of business, corporate speak is sometimes needed to get to the level of detail needed for work. But job descriptions most often talk entirely in corporate speak to the point that what is actually done on the job is a total mystery.

The problem for you in applying for a job with a corporate speak description is two-fold: you have no idea what you are applying to do and this job description is the first indication that the company you are applying to is all about corporate speak (and not customers).

If you apply for a position like this and are fortunate to get a job interview, you will need to ask questions like “describe a typical day on the job for this position.” You certainly won’t know from the job description, right?

And if your prospective manager answers in corporate speak, run for the hills as fast as you can…

Job Descriptions with Generic Requirements

Generic requirements in job descriptions offer their own set of challenges. The first challenge is that all that you do is a plug and play worker in the position. If you are a team member, work well with others, know Microsoft Office and two other job skills (like a programming language), you are good to go.

And so are 5,000 other applicants. The big challenge with generic requirements in job descriptions is there is no way to determine your unique skills and performance attributes that will help differentiate you from the other 4,999 applicants.

Doing a job interview off of a generic requirements position will require you to ask questions specifically about the work so you can pull out your unique professional branding attributes to present to the hiring manager. But the probability of you getting an interview in the first place is low because the job requirements are so generic.

Job Descriptions with impossible skills listing

You’ve seen the job descriptions when the skills requirements take up two-thirds of the job description. You must have 5-10 years of experience with every programming language under the sun, the twenty-seven industry certifications found for your work and then match up to the fifty other “desired” qualifications as well.

You can expect that these same people will then try and pay you 15% below the market average as well.

Doing a job interview with this type of skills listing requires you to get to the essence of the work on the job. There is no way you will use an impossible skills list on the job. So apply anyway and see what happens.

Company’s poor job descriptions invite poor talent

Perhaps management just doesn’t get the human resources side of getting the right candidate for a job. They either place the generic job description out on the boards and expect quality candidates or so muddle up the work to be done that figuring out if you are right for the job is impossible.

Since most job descriptions fall into these categories, it is important for you as a Cubicle Warrior to get to the bottom of the work to be done so you can see how your job skills and job performance will match up to the poor job description.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.