#7 On Job Descriptions (238 words, August 14, 2013)

I am amused by corporations complaining about skill shortages. When corporations complain they can’t find talent with the right skills, it often means laughably unrealistic job definitions are being created by people (or worse, committees), who are trying to keep secure, cushy and fun work for themselves and dumping psychologically incompatible, thankless schlep work into far too few new roles. Like the DoD trying to buy the JSF that is all planes to all services (and therefore useless all around). The result is overloaded superhero roles that also require perverse stupidity and no desire for autonomy to take on. To look at some marketing role descriptions, you’d think they want a combo Steve Jobs plus envelope-licking flunkey, with an implanted brain chip that makes them do it all and not ask for anything in return, particularly autonomy or discretionary resources. Or the ever-popular “graphic designer plus interaction designer plus usability researcher plus focus group and survey researcher plus customer service person, willing to work for exposure and minimum wage.” If you manage to fill such ill-conceived roles at all, I suspect the new hires will be set up for failure: they’ll either fail in-role, or creatively break out of it and compound the problem by trying to drive unrealistic hiring in turn themselves. I am increasingly convinced hiring/talent problems are often a case of the hiring parties being in need of therapy and counseling, rather than labor market inefficiencies.



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