Does this seem familiar?
We’re looking for a dynamic marketer to lead the [insert group name] team. In this role you will manage a talented group of marketing professionals to drive growth, build market share and increase awareness among target markets. Working closely with your colleagues in [insert department], [insert department] and [insert department], you will deliver a range of strategic [insert deliverable], [insert deliverable] and [insert deliverable] while managing budgets and tight timelines.
Then will follow at least 12 bullet points of required experience and another dozen or so looking for skills like teamwork, communication, leadership and something called results-oriented. This is basically a job description for a sled dog.
I think the HR manager who wrote this job description 40 years ago ought to be suing us all for royalties. Kind of like the Happy Birthday lady. This terrible excuse for a job description is, sadly, the template that results in thousands of terrible hires every year, and not just in the marketing department: lousy job descriptions can ruin careers in almost any part of the organization.
What Marketing Leaders Want
In addition to describing jobs that don’t exist, these templates attempt to define people who can’t exist. Along the way they forget entirely to connect the whole nasty fiction of these descriptions to the purpose of the company. How can anyone think this is a recipe for success?
What most marketing leaders really want is this: Someone who’s spent enough time in marketing that they more or less know what most of the acronyms mean, but haven’t yet started doubting their personal ethics. The successful candidate can build endless iterations of the same PowerPoint while figuring out a bunch of ambiguous reports, arguing about what constitutes a lead and slapping the logo on travel mugs that end up in a landfill because they were too blue. The qualifications will include things like experience with uncertain budgets, an ability to soothe petulant sales people, comfort with strategic 180s and being okay with backlist products that just won’t die.
Skills may or may not include a sense of humour, a head for numbers, a bit of coding, some design but the ability to access some native smarts when you need them the most is not negotiable.
Death to Job Descriptions
Now I realize that isn’t really a job description, and that’s okay because I think it’s time we killed off job descriptions once and for all. We’re not hiring “roles” or “resources”, we’re hiring people. People who are curious, good at solving our sh*t, fun to hang out with, hard working, kind to animals, quirky, competent, confident, creative, smart, respectful and who buy into our mission.
The problem is, we keep posting the same damn job descriptions and expecting a different hiring result each time. That’s why so many great hires don’t come through Bethany or ART; they come from personal references.
When was the last time you referred someone for a job and mentioned how much they loved being dynamic and working in a fast-paced environment? I’m hoping never. You probably fired along their resume or LinkedIn link and talked about their great attitude, a project they aced, a problem they tackled. You mentioned how patient they were and how quickly they learned the ropes. Maybe you shared a bit about how they came through a tough time. This is what hiring managers want, not a checklist of preferred skills and industry experience.
We need to stop describing jobs and start describing people.
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BizMarketer is written by Elizabeth Williams
I help companies have better conversations
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org