I recently received a note from a LinkedIn contact frustrated with job descriptions being unrealistic. She was incredulous that a company would post such an outlandish job description that didn’t sit well with her experience as an expert in her field. Similarly, when I was a headhunter, I frequently encountered candidates who self-selected and rejected opportunities due to feeling like they couldn’t live up to or accept the terms of the job description. Some were too good to be true, some sounded downright awful.
As a hiring manager, hiring manager’s headhunter, and executive search expert, what I’m here to tell you is the job descriptions don’t mean anything! That’s right, they’re utterly useless as a benchmark to evaluate any role. Here are 3 Reasons Why Job Descriptions Don’t Mean Anything and what you should do instead of wasting your time fretting over them.
1. Job Descriptions, AKA, JDs are rarely, if ever, written by the actual hiring manager! Can you believe that? Hiring managers are so busy these days that they feel the it’s HR’s job to do all the recruiting. They don’t bother writing the JD or want to get involved. People just don’t care as much as they used to. Sadly, many hiring managers just work to live, and are not passionate about their companies/jobs/roles, so to expect them to write up a glowing literary work of art, is beyond what they’re willing or capable of doing. Not to mention, some roles require spelling out some confidential information, so you can’t expect a job description to be that specific or accurate.
The reason for this lack of care is multi-fold. Current cultural shifts in employment trends have shortened average employment tenure as candidates and managers switch companies much more frequently than in the past. Not to mention, entrepreneurship opportunities are abundant due to the ever-decreasing costs of starting a business. Because of these reasons, a hiring manager may also be in middle of a career transition so they won’t be that vested in the hiring process as they’re also about to vacate!
2. Most Job Descriptions are posted by headhunters/companies/HR staff who just copy and paste other ads from competitors, companies, and paraphrase it! Headhunters, HR, and internal recruiters are also busy people! The majority of these what Dandan Global calls “hiring entities”, focuses on the volume of ads produced, not quality of ads written. In other words, you don’t get any points nor any reward for your extra effort. The advertiser usually customizes another JD, tweaks it, then slaps it onto internal and external job portals, landing in front of you on the computer screen.
Trust me, I know this as a fact – I used to advertise jobs all the time! Posting jobs is an important advertising activity but also extremely time consuming with little ROI! About 40% of the candidates I placed came from job adverts, but that wasn’t immediate. Did they get the job I advertised for? 99% no! However, through advertising, I became aware of their existence and after building a relationship, I eventually placed them in a role or some other company I was recruiting for that fit their unique needs. It’s a slow-burning process. You see, the job description is only just a teaser to get you in the door.
If you see a headhunter posting ads all day, you’ll know he/she is an expert or is likely to have multiple jobs in your field, therefore you will bite because there’s enough job volume to make your efforts worth it. In this case, quantity does matter, arguably more than quality.
Is there anything wrong with that? Well, it’s like online dating, is it a problem if you advertise with your best foot forward? Of course not. You’ll only find out through more time spent together whether he/she has what you’re looking for and vice versa.
3. As a candidate, the onus is on YOU to interview the job opportunity as well to make sure it fits your needs. You can’t use a few words on the internet to either reject or accept a big decision in your life. The job description is just the start of a conversation, not the be-all end-all.
If you end up disliking the manager, company, culture, or work environment, it was never due to the job description. Your dislike materialized through your own experience of the opportunity. So please don’t put too much value on the job description!
Do your own digging, and ask the questions you need answers to. This is why we teach the DANDAN Method which includes Direct and Dominate the Process, and Nail Your Narrative.
I hope this articles helps alleviate some of your frustrations reading job descriptions that don’t make sense. As I always recommend, go direct to source and skip the run-around. Network with the right people (usually the hiring manager) to find out the real story, or rely on a trustworthy headhunter that you know well to be an authority in your industry and role.
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