Job Descriptions Are Noise

Mar 27, 2013

flipboard-logo-fullcolor-tinyThe majority of job descriptions are a waste of space. Potential candidates read job titles, look at the renumeration, the location, and then many throw their resume out hoping it will stick. Most simply do not read all that text between the job title and the apply button. So is it time to rethink the job description? What is wrong with the job description? Why is it ignored by so many? 

The job description is too long. Internet consumption has trained people to read snippets of text. At the same time the Internet has made is cost effective for job descriptions to grow. These two trends run counter to each other, resulting in a negative impact.

The first two or three paragraphs of almost all job descriptions feel the same. This rapidly becomes noise to the job seeker, who soon learns to ignore them. Ask yourself: what actual value do your job description offer? Are the same buzzwords over used? Does the job description differentiate your role from all the other roles the job seeker is reading? Or is the entire copy noise?

The job description frequently is at odds to reality. The truth is out there — on Glassdoor and social media — so job descriptions should stick to reality.

Instead of improving the text, it is time to re-invent the job description. It is out of date, does not work, and fails to make use of todays technology.

There have been some great thinking around job descriptions, but how can we push the boundaries further? If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a video (which is 25 pictures a second) must speak millions of words. Visual job descriptions could be a big hit for candidates on smartphones and tablets.

Stats from ComScore show that 37% of all minutes spent online are spent via smartphone or tablet. Video consumption via mobile is through the roof. Mobile is a personal and very private viewing device which is ideal for candidates looking at jobs. But reading long job descriptions is not mobile friendly.

Could mobile devices and rich media be the perfect marriage for delivering engaging information on vacancies? Can companies deliver authentic content that actually delivers value? Or will the same obsession for filling job descriptions with meaningless noise be repeated in a different medium?

Smartphone and tablet innovation has reinvented how we consume media. For example, using FlipBoard I get a visual and high-level summary of news stories and it’s a pleasant experience. If I want to go deep into a story I can, but usually I don’t. Visual job descriptions coupled with key data points wrapped in an easy to browse interface would revolutionize today’s job seeker experience.

The aim of “job description 2.0” should be to engage the candidate and have key information jump out of the screen. It must be easy to consume and clear to understand. Today the purpose of the job description is a mixture of providing information for the candidate to self filter and selling the company or role. More often than not the job description fails to deliver its purpose.

In the world of retail we have comparison websites helping consumers choose the right TV or automobile. Job description 2.0 can enable such comparisons for the job seeker. The “meta data” for a job ad should make it easy for candidates to compare different job opportunities. Job description 2.0 should make it easier for the job seeker to compare against their ideal job.

Imagine if all job ads included such meta data, so candidates could easily select and compare jobs from companies of a certain type, or companies with certain fiscal performance, or roles needing certain skills, or roles with travel, or roles involving lots of meetings, or roles with various industry challenges, etc. Couple the power of such a “meta job description” with a visually rich presentation, and honest video or photos of your new desk, and now it has meaning.

So with the vision painted, what’s the first step on the journey to a job-description-free world?

I discussed this topic with Jim Stroud, and we prepared a fun YouTube video to share the message.




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