Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why Are Job Descriptions So Poorly Written?

This is something that has always baffled me. When companies need to hire somebody, don’t they want to hire an experienced and talented person? If so, why do they make it so darn hard to figure out what the job actually is?

I like to keep an eye on what opportunities are out there. I wish I’d lived in a time when an employee could expect to stay with one company for an entire career. I don’t. While I do appreciate the company I currently work for, I’m under no illusions that their relationship with me can’t end at any time and for any reason on their part. Loyalty is a wonderful quality, but should not be misplaced.




I occasionally check out other jobs to keep a handle on what else is out there. You know what I find? It almost seems as if companies are deliberately trying to keep good people out. Don’t get me started on USA Jobs. That is one of the WORST websites EVER. I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve checked out that lead to dead sites or broken programming. I once found an IT job for the Navy that I would have been perfect for, but the online application was broken and would not let me through to the next screen. I have decided that a government job is completely out of the question because it’s too much of a pain to apply for them. I also know that currently government salaries are much higher than private sector salaries. But is that sustainable? Sooner or later, Keynesian economics is going to implode, and I don’t want to be in a government job when that happens.

Other companies do really stupid things, like make you upload your resume, then spend the next 4 hours copying and pasting the same information already on your resume into text blocks. Idiotic! Hire a business analyst, people. I’ll do it. Seriously, I enjoy doing systems analysis and business analysis work. Contact me for details. Or, keep your busted up website the way it is and wonder why you can’t find good people. Nothing says “Come work for us!” like a broken, inefficient, painful Internet job application. It shows off the best side of your company. If it takes that long and that much effort just to apply, what’s going to happen the first time you screw up my paycheck? If your website sucks that badly, you’re surely going to screw up some administrative aspect of my career, and it’ll take me a lot of time and frustration to get it fixed. No thank you.

OK, let’s look at what spurred this blog post in the first place: job descriptions. Here’s one I came across recently:

The Engineer will use an interdisciplinary approach to using engineering principles that will directly affect all of the engineering work and that occurs during the development, implementation, testing and performance checking the systems for this unit.  Will be performing 2nd level maintenance for our client, including reviewing technical documentation to ensure accuracy.

Let’s look at the first sentence again, from a cynical perspective:

The Engineer will use an interdisciplinary approach to using engineering principles that will directly affect all of the engineering work and that occurs during the development, implementation, testing and performance checking the systems for this unit. 

Can someone tell me what that means? What second language was that translated into English from? I have an urge to submit it to Engrish Funny. Maybe I’ll start my own blog about job descriptions that FAIL.

But wait, it gets even better. Here is the first bullet under the section “Essential Job Functions:”

  • Works independently with minimal or no supervision.

Isn’t that the point to “works independently”? I’d go on, because it only gets better, but I don’t want to embarrass this company too much.

On the off chance that anyone responsible for hiring stops by my blog, let me ask you:

Do you actually care about hiring “good people”? How do you expect to hire good people with horrible job descriptions like that, and broken online job applications?

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