Got a job to fill? Tell it like it is.

At last week, I took another swipe at job descriptions, something that is crowning my hit list of sacred cows these days.

We are in a time where the traditional ways we look at job structure is absolutely begging for reinvention; as workforce demographics surely shift, businesses everywhere are bracing for inevitable labor shortages. The thing is, just bracing for them doesn’t cut it. Chances are most of the job descriptions you are using are hopelessly out of date, and they don’t begin to paint an accurate picture of the job vacancies you should be filling.

Don’t get overwhelmed
: this is not something you have to turn into a major project. You can tackle your fresh reinvention one job at a time whenever you have the need to fill a vacancy. Get rid of the one-for-one replacement mentality, and consistently reshape and reinvent instead.

Came across this shoutout for a summer intern at Seth Godin’s blog today, and this is all you need in a job description — plain talk, with the overall theme of take this job and run with it – dazzle me.

Why don’t we do more of this?

1. need someone in our office a few days a week. work from home some days is okay. hours pretty flexible.

2. office on the hudson river, 45 minutes from Grand Central in NYC. we pay transportation.

3. report to editor-in-chief. sample projects: new feature testing, pick shortlists for lens of the day selection, make prototypes for partners, research passionate communities, jump up and down in forums, day-to-day maintenance of the site, learn new hula hoop tricks, research lensmaking trends…

4. you can basically set your own role depending on how hard you work and what you’re good at

5. number five is up to you.

6. we have an espresso machine, but no ponies.


5.25.06 Update: Look at this job description in the archives, from October 2004:

…a Q&A called 60 Seconds with Mira Nair, director of Vanity Fair.

    “FC: What is your job description?

My work as a director is to make everybody bloom: to cast for strengths of an actor, mine the strengths, and then maximize them. Casting actors is both intuitive and informed. Then I see what will work and encourage them in the direction of what’s working. I love them into it. They’re like sponges: The more attention you give, the more they shine.”


  1. says

    “Jobs today are really seminars.”

    Fast Company magazine has gone through quite an evolution, and reading blog commentary about it over time, whether pro or con, illustrates one common theme: people can be pretty passionate about it. They get passionate about it because in the

  2. says

    Simplify Job Descriptions, Do Not Write Them

    In a post that I wished I had wrote, Rosa Say points Got a job to fill? Tell it like it is. If you are like me you will find yourself saying well that is just common sense. Except common sense is actually all that common.
    We are i…

  3. says

    Excellent point and I completely agree. Even well-defined job descriptions only contain 50% of useful information about a position and they certainly lead to dinosaur-type thinking of one-for-one replacement instead of innovative solutions when someone leaves an organization. As a case-in-point, when I was an IT Manager, one day, I was unexpectantly asked to update all the job descriptions of the associates who reported to me (there were 8 distinct job-types) so HR could be prepared, just in case, someone left the firm.
    A few years ago, another a colleague and I decided that instead of descriptions, everyone should be given a “Job Theory” outline instead. These would be flexible and would simply detail one’s major tasks and expected outcomes of their work. All of these would end with a tagline such as “and other duties as assigned or as the environment demands.”

  4. says

    Aloha Thom, and mahalo for your comment; I am so happy to know you are one of our Ho‘ohana Community of readers!
    “Job Theory” outline – I love that! I see your “major tasks” as the stuff that comes with the territory (frankly, the stuff you can’t deny are part of your responsibilities, and they have to get done) and when supplemented with your “expected outcomes,” expectations are clear, but you open the door to initiative, creativity, and the voluntary assumption of increased responsibility.
    I would have suggested this ending tagline: “As we pursue our mission together, aligned in our shared values, we fully expect you will learn, innovate, and continually reinvent your job contributions as one of our trusted business partners, seeking to use all of your knowledge, skill, and talent in the best possible way.”

  5. says

    In search of a job spec that inspires!

    Over on Talking Story, Rosa has an interesting post on simplifying job descriptions – simply titled Got a job to fill? Tell it like it is. I love how Rosa thinks, her blog is on my ‘must read’ list (sometimes,

  6. says

    7 Links for 5/29/06

    Why we all sell code with bugs – An article stating how the risks behind fixing bugs forces companies to choose to sell software with known bugs.
    Escape the software development paradigm trap – And in the other corner, a developer proposing that we sho…