It’s time to break up with your job description template
Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. First off, my thoughts are with the employees of Twitter, for whom this past week was supposed to be “focus week,” meant for heads-down work and minimal meetings. Instead, they’ve been dealing with an attempted hostile takeover. If anyone who works at Twitter wants to share their experience or perspective, I’m all ears: email@example.com. If you have sensitive info or want to speak anonymously, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a separate note, I liked this piece of advice from recruiter Adam Karpiak on Twitter: “In a job interview, ask the company about the last change they implemented based on employee feedback and the impact it had. That will give you insights into their culture and management style.” Thoughts?
Today: All things job descriptions, Andy Jassy’s first shareholder letter and why Asian women are unfairly excluded from diversity initiatives.
It’s not me, it’s your job description
You’ve got the budget to fill a new role and you need to fill it ASAP. You copy and paste an old job description, or even better, you find a draft you’ve been using for years in the depths of your Google Drive. You make a few edits, update the title and add a couple new skills needed for a lead programmer or software engineer role and ship it off to the recruiting team to put up on the career site.
Though quick, this kind of haste often results in a job description rife with comical blunders and outdated job requirements — a deterrent to many potential qualified applicants. It turns out these chopped and screwed versions of job descriptions are not a hit among prospective hires.
Recruiting analytics company Datapeople sees this on the daily. Amit Bhatia, CEO of Datapeople, said his team frequently analyzes job descriptions for trends and insights to inform effective recruiting processes. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your appetite for entertainment) they come across a fair share of less-than-stellar job descriptions for some of the most in-demand jobs in tech. Some recent trends they’ve noticed:
- Employers are still listing graduate degree requirements for technical and skills-based roles that don’t necessitate an advanced degree. A few companies even listed MDs or JDs as examples of advanced degrees that would be acceptable for an unrelated role in tech.
- Outdated skill requirements (e.g. words per minute). Three of the job descriptions Bhatia sent over to me as examples included lofty WPM requirements that are likely ghosts from job descriptions past. (I wouldn’t even begin to be able to guess my WPM and I’m a person who types for a living).
- Quirky job requirements that may reflect poorly on the company, like asking a candidate to have attention to detail at the level of wanting to know “exactly where that piece of spinach in our teeth is.” Yes, someone actually wrote that.
- And, of course, misspelled words in job descriptions. Need I say more?
"As of 2021, third-party job boards like LinkedIn remain the primary source of applicants for open positions. When a job post is often the only piece of messaging that potential candidates receive from an organization, employers have to think of job posts as marketing documents, not internal HR documents," said Bhatia in an email to Protocol.
Funny quirks aside, one of the easiest ways to get a job description up to par is to drop the unnecessary requirements that might be unintentionally weeding out quality applicants. Education requirements are one of the most common requirements that many employers are beginning to drop from job descriptions. New research from Indeed revealed hiring managers are expanding their talent search beyond the boundaries of advanced degrees.
- In the survey of over 500 U.S. employers, 59% said they’d consider getting rid of college requirements. Large employers proved to be more eager to hire applicants based on experience over education, according to Indeed.
- And here’s why not listing stringent and exclusionary job requirements matters even more today: Indeed found that 73% of employers said they are hiring more candidates from outside industries. And 78% said they are seeing more job seekers applying for jobs that vary from their past work experience.
Glassdoor’s career trends expert, Alison Sullivan, said it’s in the company’s best interest to prove why it’s a good fit for a candidate with an untraditional background, rather than anticipating the other way around when those candidates are applying for a role.
“Oftentimes, candidates are expected to make the case for what they would bring to a role, and similarly, employers should showcase what they can offer candidates. For instance, Glassdoor research shows that access to career opportunities is a leading factor of long-term employee satisfaction, so a company that shows off their career development programs in job descriptions could better attract quality talent that will want to grow and stay with the company,” said Sullivan in a statement to Protocol.
She also notes that first impressions are crucial for companies recruiting in today’s tight talent markets and a job description is often a candidate's first impression of a role. Not to mention you can easily widen your potential candidate pool by simply trimming an outdated job description and reassessing unnecessary education requirements. In other words, this is the time to get your postings into shape.
“A rigid or inflated list of outdated requirements or skills may deter quality talent from applying. Just as candidates are expected to provide up-to-date resumes and qualifications, employers should brush up older job descriptions and customize postings for the current needs of the business,” said Sullivan.
We finally know what Amazon thinks about unions
Andy Jassy’s first annual shareholder letter — continuing a Jeff Bezos multi-decade tradition — touched on company financials, COVID-19 and also its massive workforce. Jassy gave a companion interview to CNBC where, for the first time, he publicly shared his thoughts on unions at Amazon.
It’s been a challenging couple of months for Amazon leadership, who appeared completely unprepared for the company’s first successful union election in a Staten Island warehouse this month. The company is currently challenging the union’s victory there, but Jassy hadn’t formally commented on the union until earlier this week. His thoughts weren’t entirely a surprise: “If they see something they can do better for customers or for themselves, they can go meet in a room, decide how to change it and change it," Jassy said in the CNBC interview. "That type of empowerment doesn't happen when you have unions. It's much more bureaucratic, it's much slower."
A pro-union advocacy group called the Strategic Organizing Center also released its second report on injury rates at Amazon this week, showing how injuries inside the company’s warehouses continue to average nearly double those at other warehouses in the United States. Jassy called those rates “misunderstood” in the shareholder letter. “We have operations jobs that fit both the ‘warehousing’ and ‘courier and delivery’ categories. In the last U.S. public numbers, our recordable incident rates were a little higher than the average of our warehousing peers (6.4 vs. 5.5), and a little lower than the average of our courier and delivery peers (7.6 vs. 9.1). This makes us about average relative to peers, but we don’t seek to be average,” he wrote.
How is tech setting — and measuring — its climate goals?
Net zero. Carbon offsets. Scope 3 emissions. These are just some of the terms you’ll find in Big Tech’s climate plans. Understanding what they actually mean is vital to ensuring the industry is meeting its goals — and understanding whether those goals are the right ones. We’ll talk with some of the people responsible for setting those goals and experts who are monitoring them to find out what tech companies are really doing on April 19 at 10 a.m. PT. RSVP here.
A MESSAGE FROM WORKPLACE FROM META
100% of C-suite staff surveyed by Workplace from Meta said that frontline workers were a strategic priority for their business in 2022, but nearly two in three of them said that keeping their frontline staff, who bear the brunt of the stresses of the workplace most acutely, had only become a priority since the pandemic hit.
Diversity initiatives are excluding Asian women
Asians occupy a nebulous space within the tech industry. They’re not technically underrepresented, but that doesn’t mean that that they don’t face discrimination or massive barriers to opportunity. A new report from researchers at the UC Hastings College of the Law found that Asian women reported far worse outcomes than white women:
- They also reported lower levels of engagement and career satisfaction than white women and were 42% more likely to report being “demeaned, disrespected, stereotyped, left out of the loop and treated like they were invisible.”
- The authors point out that East Asians are underrepresented in leadership, while South Asians are not. However, they also point out that that representation is limited to men, with South Asian women 60% less likely than white women to report seeing a long-term future for themselves at their companies. They were also 54% more likely than white women to report being given low-level work below their skillset.
- Overall, East Asian women were 66% less likely than white women to report seeing a long-term future for themselves at their companies.
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A MESSAGE FROM WORKPLACE FROM META
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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to email@example.com. Have a great day, see you Tuesday.