Mix ‘n’ Match: Good for Pizza, Bad for Job Descriptions

We all love pizza. And there’s nothing better on a lazy Friday evening than to order a couple of pizzas and hang out on the couch. It couldn’t be easier: you pick a crust, pick some meat, pick your cheese, and pick a few veggies, and voila! And if every second customer picks the exact same thing as you, who cares?

Picking something from column A and something from column B works well when ordering food. But it doesn’t work so well when creating a job description. And yet, you’d swear that companies are doing just that: picking and choosing generic descriptors that they’ve seen on a thousand other job ads, and mashing it all together until it sounds okay.

Job Description Quiz

Don’t believe me? Here’s a little quiz, see if you can guess which type of job the description matches with (see below for answer key):

1) “Sells products by establishing contact and developing relationships with prospects; recommending solutions.”
Is this job ad for:

  1. Senior Sales Executive
  2. Inside Sales Representative
  3. Product Demonstrator
  4. Bank Teller

2) “Accomplishes work requirements by orienting, training, assigning, scheduling, and coaching employees”

  1. Industrial Foreman
  2. Project Manager
  3. IT Manager
  4. Creative Director

3. “Maintains workflow by studying methods; implementing cost reductions; and developing reporting procedures.”

  1. Data Entry Expert
  2. Administrative Assistant
  3. Housing Placement Specialist
  4. Marketing Coordinator

4. “Accomplishes organizational goals by accepting ownership for accomplishing new and different requests; exploring opportunities to add value to job accomplishments.”

  1. Marketing Coordinator
  2. Property Manager
  3. Community Engagement Coordinator
  4. Government Relations Specialist

5. “Accomplishes department and organization mission by completing related results as needed.”

  • Accounting Manager
  • Data Entry Operator
  • Assistant to the CEO
  • Swim Instruction Supervisor

Bonus Question Time!

1) “It’s the diversity of those people and their ideas that inspires the innovation that runs through everything we do, from amazing technology to industry-leading environmental efforts.”

Which company has this on their careers page? (No looking it up!)

  1. Samsung
  2. Exxon
  3. Apple
  4. General Motors

Tough quiz, wasn’t it? The answer to the bonus question was C: Apple. And the rest of the quiz? Every single question could be answered with “All of the above.”

Yep, that’s right. Those phrases are used verbatim in real, live ads for each and every one of those positions. Now, that’s not to say that the people who wrote the ads are lazy. Finding new ways to say things is TOUGH. There are only so many ways that the average person can come up with to describe something.

But that’s why employer branding is so very crucial. It’s the secret sauce on your pizza, elevating everything you do. Even if you do rely on a few generic phrases here and there, if you insert as much of your own flavor into everything you do — from job descriptions to social media content to your home page copy, it will make you stand out from the crowd, catching the attention of the top talent you seek. And once you’ve nabbed those top superstars? Take ‘em out for pizza.

This post was originally published on the NextWave Hire Blog where we write about tips and trends related to employer branding and talent acquisition.

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