Job descriptions gone wild!

Have you paid close attention to the length of job descriptions these days? Especially institutional, financial and government job descriptions? Have you tried to read all the way through them and understand what they are really describing and expecting?

At one time, not to long ago, a job description (JD) clearly indicated what it wanted you to do on one page. You filled in the rest on the job because the employer trusted you to grasp and learn, based on initiative and trial and error. Not today.

I read another JD today for a managerial position in a large Canadian corporation, and the JD had 41 distinct company accountables listed, and 19 applicant requirements. One accountability phrase was something like “You will leverage the product characteristics, with third-party interventions based on conventional expectations of tactful negotiations and client respect”. What the hell does that mean? And there were 40 more just like it. Qualifications needed were (and remember this was for a position that paid $62,000 to start): undergraduate degree , but preferably a MBA or equivalent; 5-7 years directly related experience;  ability to direct a team of 7-12 people; ability to travel as required; own late model vehicle; computer expertise expected.

When companies compact three to four roles into one, and present the job tasks and responsibilities in almost a monograph format, there can only be several reasons: one, to impress the candidate; two, to intimidate candidates so only the bravest (i.e., most qualified) would apply;  three, to shorten the interview; and four, to get the most efficient amount of work done for the least cost.

Such approaches may quickly lead to performance burn-out, thus increasing costs and decreasing sales and lowering morale. It’s time employers shortened the job description that is shown in the media, and paid more attention to the quality of work that comes from manageable work loads. Focused work, and selecting high quality employees, has dividends far beyond extensive lateral job loading to save costs.

An expert violin maker should not be selling, answering the phones, and driving the truck.

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