Job Descriptions Suck! This will make them cool.

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Jim Stroud is thinking about sourcing, recruiting, social networks and predictive analytics.Recently, I have been hearing a lot of resentment about job descriptions. I’ve heard discontent in a recent client training session. I’ve heard it in the last couple of recruiting presentations I’ve attended. And, the disdain from jobseekers is pretty standard fare. Can you remember the last time you did a search on Monster, Indeed, CareerBuilder, whatever, and was pleasantly surprised to read a job description that captured your imagination? I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, just that it is extremely rare. Such being the case, I made a personal challenge to myself to decode the job description code. I wanted to figure out the best possible way to create job descriptions that convey all of what HR wants to say but, still manages to capture the attention of the jobseeker.

I must admit that after meditating on this problem, my head started to hurt. However, I soldiered on and came up with a few alternatives that I hope will become a trend. One can hope…

Option One: Succinct and sexy

Have you heard of JobGram? I really like the concept of what they do. Instead of writing a job description for you, they make it into an infographic. How cool is that? At a glance, the jobseeker gets the idea of what HR wants to convey. Plus, since its essentially a pretty picture, it works for passive candidates who have a much shorter attention span than active candidates.

Here is an example of a Job Gram!

I found out quite recently that JobGram is going beyond infographics and making video adverts as well. VERY, very cool. Here is an example of that.

I hope to interview the good people behind this company and share further insights in the near future.

Option Two: Gamify It!

Every year there are blog posts and/or articles about the trends for the coming year and the hottest topics of the previous year. Why not use this data to create job descriptions that are timely, relevant and could quite possibly become viral? Hmm… Just in case I lost you there, let me show you what I mean. I will pretend for a moment that I am on the hunt for some java developers.

Check out this Google search:

Surveying the results, here is an excerpt from one of the most popular 2012 blog posts regarding “java.”

JSF 2, PrimeFaces 3, Spring 3 & Hibernate 4 Integration Project
And finally, the most popular Java Code Geeks post for 2012 is this tutorial combining a number of enterprise Java technologies such as JSF, PrimeFaces, Spring and Hibernate. Honestly, this was a bit of surprise to me, but I think this shows how big is the adoption of these technologies by the Java developers world.

Intellij vs. Eclipse
Another battle, this time the battle of IDEs! All developers have their favorite IDE and this article explores the differences between two of the most popular in the Java world, namely Intellij and Eclipse. On the same note, check out What’s Cool In IntelliJIDEA Part I  and Eclipse Shortcuts for Increased Productivity

Why I will use Java EE instead of Spring in new Enterprise Java Projects in 2012
Another article that generated a lot of heated arguments. The eternal fight between Java EE  and Spring framework. The author lists the advantages of both approaches and explains why he opted for Java EE.

I notice that several of these posts were debating the virtues of one java-related tech verses another. Why not create a landing page where java developers can debate the issues of one technology over the other with the most intriguing comments winning a prize of some sort? The contest could be judged by your CTO and to join in the fray, one must login to the landing page with your LinkedIn account. (Of course, you get where I am going with this?) Recruiters can review the comments made on the page as well as the LinkedIn profile of whomever said it. Recruiters could then have an excuse for following up with the person(s) involved in the discussion; even if they did not win the prize. Make sense?

If you like the idea of this, I have another search you might want to try.

Option Three: Create Your Own Monster (job descripton)!

Young Frankenstein creates the perfect job description
This is my favorite choice of all three. Banish job descriptions entirely! Instead, promote what the company does, its culture and the positives of working at the location. Mention technologies being used and areas where you might need some help. On a “Careers” page, let people pitch to you their “dream job” and give supporting evidence as to why they are qualified to do said occupation at your company. Supportive documentation could include a resume, whitepapers they have written, power point presentations and so on. Get it? This would make closing candidates sooo much easier. After all, with this method, you would be contacting them based on what they said they wanted to do. All things being wonderful, their desires would be inline with what you are looking to hire. How sweet would that be?

Okay, this concludes my rant on the issue. I would like to hear your comments. What do you think?


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    I am not sure if banishing the JD is the key, I prefer a quick bullet format, fancy doesn’t always get attention. I deal with MS and PHD candidates and they want a quick 3 line bullet JD. JDs can help “weed” people out, it clearly states what the client is looking for and you either meet or dont meet the guidelines, therefore saving time from interviewing and losing a closing.

  2. Barb Flanagan

    I enjoyed this article and think the jobgrams are the coolest thing. All the pertinent information in an eye-catching and exciting presentation! It makes it look “cool” to work there and leaves a lasting impression on the job seekers.

  3. Ken Sevec

    Thanks Jim! Jobgram is cool. Are there any infographic tools available (you recommend) for creating “visual” job descriptions?

  4. Otis Collier

    Jobgrams look really cool. I think it can definitely help to add a flair to social media recruiting. You can use those infographics to post to social media sites like Pinterest, FB, and even Twitter.

  5. Josh Tolan

    These are all really interesting ways to improve the job description. Online video is being used in more aspects of the hiring process, from video resumes submitted by candidates to video interviews performed in real time, so it’s not surprising companies would chose to use video in the job description. The job description infographic is also a great idea, and makes it even easier for great candidates to pass around job descriptions which can be quickly perused.

  6. Carlie Smith

    Love this! I blogged a few weeks back on this ( because I was coming across so many cookie-cutter descriptions that I could not get excited about. I think when you are hiring for a specific role, a description is necessary, but that companies need to spice things up. They shouldn’t list the ideal candidate characteristics, but rather interesting things your company or the team is doing, and what things the candidate should have experience and interest with to be a fit. Write it in a way that markets the company to the target audience, while staying true to company culture. I love the Jobgram and the idea of adding video to supplement a listing.

  7. Media Mark

    The key here, is that the company culture needs to match the posting. If you have a fun, exciting, “cool” culture, by all means go fo it. If not, stick to the JD. But be sure you at least run a spell-checker on it- nothing worse than trying to understand a badly written JD.

  8. Ben Tessman (@bentoons)

    The thing I run into enough times to drive me batty is the dreaded copy/paste from a client’s list of requirements and call that a job description… that’s it! Not only do you not garner any interest, a candidate could easily pick out a key phrase and find out the company in a matter of seconds and LOSE OUT ON A FEE without even knowing about it… MAJOR problem!

    A job description, in my book, is giving the potential candidate enough information to call you wanting more. Talk about how great the company is and why they would want to work there. Create value in the role by mentioning what kind of an impact they will make in your organization.

    I like your ideas in this post, Jim. Thanks for sharing!

  9. mypeoplebiz

    Great ideas on transforming job descriptions. Love the creativity used, if more employers did this they would have much more eager and excited candidates!

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