Help Me, Wanda! #2: A More Honest Job Description?

Help Me, Wanda! #2: A More Honest Job Description?

Dear Wanda,

My company needs to fill a Satellite Installation Technician position. I’ve written a job description I feel adequately and truthfully explains the functions of the job. Every time I bring it to my boss for final approval, she says I need to revise it in a way that “won’t scare off candidates.” I have tried to incorporate her feedback, but honestly, it’s a challenging, no-frills type of job, and I think it’s better people know what they’re getting into. Can you tell me who is right: me or my boss?


A Job in Sheep’s Clothing

Dear Sheep,

The good news is you’re right. The bad news is now you have to tell your boss she’s wrong. Here are some ways to explain it, delicately.

Right now your boss believes the more applications the better. By casting the net wide, she’s thinks she’ll eventually find that amazing over-qualified candidate, the one that’s not yet aware of their value (read: willing to work for cheap). I call this the “Good Will Hunting” theory of talent acquisition.

Since you are the one tasked with casting the net and checking each fish you catch, your boss isn’t incentivized to help you limit the pool of people you appeal to. When it doubles the time to fill the role because you’re looking at every resume in a three county area, remind your boss that this was her idea. Or don’t. You might want to keep this job.

The thing that makes recruitment marketing different from regular marketing is that, ultimately, we only need to sell one person – the right person – on a position. The success of your work isn’t measured by the numbers of people who applied, but by whether or not you found someone good enough to hire. So you should focus on finding one right fit rather than a thousand potential fits.

Frankly, you might even include a section in the job description called “Reasons why you might not be a good fit” and list some of the less pleasant realities of the job. Every job has parts of it that aren’t fun. I bet even Mark Zuckerberg has days when he wonders if he should have stayed in school. But that doesn’t stop him from running Facebook.

You should focus on finding one right fit rather than a thousand potential fits.

But for some people, those unpleasant realities are reasons to leave. It makes financial sense to remove them from contention before you spend time reading the resume, interviewing them, hiring them, training them, and they leave because the job wasn’t the bowl of peach sherbet the description made it out to be.

People aren’t the same. There are plenty of people who look at my job and can’t imagine having to do it. And I look at other jobs and wonder why they are doing such arcane tasks with smiles on their faces. Just because you and your boss don’t consider the job “attractive” doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out there who would love to spend time outside, climbing on roofs, chatting with customers, and driving from house to house. The only way to attract that person is to be honest.

Happy hiring,

Have a hiring question you’d like Wanda to answer? Tweet using the hashtag #HelpMeHire and your question could end up in a future “Help Me, Wanda!” column.

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Written by Wanda

Wanda has spent the past 20 years in the recruitment marketing world, using her no-nonsense approach to hire the best talent for companies in need. She is a huge Montgomery Biscuits fan and craft beer aficionado. When not dispensing career advice, Wanda loves traveling the globe with her Chocolate Lab, Cooper. She currently resides in St. Louis but hopes to one day live on the moon and start her own improv training center.

1 Comment

  1. Mike Dachenhaus

    Good points Wanda. Over ‘selling’ a position contributes to employee attrition, so what begins as an attempt to solve a recruiting challenge often creates larger issues. Another way to attack this problem is to try to gather data pertaining to why people are exiting the organization … you may find a pattern of ‘this job is not what I thought it would be.’ Combine this with understanding the costs associated with training an employee only to watch them leave and you start to have an argument built on sound business practices rather than on emotion.

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