Why are job descriptions so vague?


Why are job descriptions so vague?

Job descriptions can often be vague due to various reasons. Firstly, companies may want to attract a wide range of candidates and keep their options open. By being vague, they can cast a wider net and consider candidates with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. Additionally, job roles can evolve over time, and companies may not want to limit themselves to specific tasks or responsibilities. Moreover, vague job descriptions can also be a result of poor communication or lack of clarity within the organization. Overall, while vague job descriptions may be frustrating for job seekers, they serve the purpose of flexibility and adaptability for companies.

Why are job descriptions so vague?

“A vague job description should be a major red flag for job seekers, as it suggests an unfocused employer and a job that will lack structured goals,” says Daniel Schoc, a recruiter at RippleMatch. Nebulous job requirements may also indicate that the opportunity is a scam.

Is the job description obsolete?

Why are job descriptions so vague?
In the past, job descriptions served the purpose of outlining the specific responsibilities and qualifications for a particular position. However, the landscape has evolved, rendering job descriptions obsolete and unnecessary.

There are multiple reasons why job descriptions have lost their relevance. Firstly, they tend to be excessively lengthy and detailed, making them arduous to comprehend. Secondly, they often fail to account for the dynamic nature of work and the evolving skill sets required in today’s jobs. Lastly, they can be rigid and restrict employee input and creativity.

In the modern workplace, job descriptions no longer serve their intended purpose. If you aim to cultivate a more agile and adaptable workforce, it is imperative to discard job descriptions and embrace a more flexible approach to work.

Do you think companies can really do without detailed job descriptions?

The importance of job descriptions may not be immediately apparent, but they play a crucial role in the growth of a business and in aligning employees with the company’s direction. Without clear job descriptions, it becomes difficult to establish clear expectations for employees and to measure their performance.

Unclear job descriptions can lead to poor performance and high levels of stress among employees, as they are left guessing and trying to figure out their responsibilities. This can result in more complaints and a decrease in motivation among employees. Additionally, without clear job descriptions, employees are unable to effectively showcase their skills, and the company may fail to receive the high-quality work they are capable of producing.

Is it OK to copy job descriptions?

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What is the problem with job descriptions?

What is the problem with job descriptions?
The job description is outdated. Compare your current business with what it was five years ago. Most likely, there have been changes. The work done by employees running the business has also evolved. Technology has transformed the way work is done, and reorganizations and restructuring have impacted roles and responsibilities. It is good practice to review job descriptions at least every two years to ensure they accurately reflect the reality of the position.

In some cases, there may not even be a job description. When hiring for a new position, the job ad becomes the de facto job description, but it is not sufficient. Job ads lack important elements such as reporting relationships, physical demands of the position, and detailed responsibilities. Without a solid job description, it becomes difficult to make decisions regarding reasonable accommodations under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The job title itself may be meaningless. While catchy job titles like “SEO Ninja” or “Network Guru” may be popular in the IT community, they don’t provide much clarity when it comes to job matching for compensation purposes. The banking industry is particularly known for title inflation. It is recommended to use meaningful and widely understood job titles to avoid confusion about the scope of the role.

Job descriptions are typically written by line managers. While supervisors and employees are best positioned to know the work done by each position, they often get caught up in the details and struggle to identify the main deliverables for which the position is responsible. Consider involving a knowledgeable outsider to interview supervisors and employees, or at the very least, designate a process owner, usually HR, to institute a review process.

Consistency is lacking across the organization. Each department has its own template with different headings, resulting in job description documents that look different. Departments or work teams update job descriptions without consulting a knowledgeable party or the HR department. Using job description software can alleviate this problem if your organization is willing to invest.

The essential functions of a position should be itemized as a percentage of time. Consider the most important tasks of the position and how much time they require. Think in terms of hours in a day or week. For example, an Administrative Assistant may spend about 4 hours a week on budget reconciliation, which is 10% of the work week. This should be reflected in the job description. If a task requires only 4 hours a month, it is less than 10% and probably should not be itemized.

Investing a few hours every two years to update job descriptions is a worthwhile investment for your organization. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, reach out to me via email and let me know what job description you need. I can provide professional HR support to help you write great job descriptions. Getting it done right and quickly is well worth it.

Why is a job description not useful?

Why is a job description not useful?
The development of job descriptions began over a century ago to bring structure to organizational systems. However, these descriptions have not kept up with modern work practices.

Here are the reasons why job descriptions fail to deliver:

1. They restrict and limit individuals: Traditional job descriptions confine people and hinder their ability to perform their jobs with creativity and innovation. This can create invisible barriers, similar to glass ceilings, that prevent individuals from progressing within organizations.

2. They quickly become outdated: Job descriptions are only accurate at the time they are written. As soon as they are created, their value diminishes, and people rarely refer to them. The longer someone has been in their role, the less relevant the description becomes.

3. They often do not reflect reality: Job descriptions often include a list of tasks and responsibilities that may not accurately capture what individuals actually do in their day-to-day work. This lack of connection between the description and the reality of the job can lead to employees feeling disconnected and hidden.

4. They are time-consuming and difficult to update: Job descriptions are often lengthy and challenging to update or amend. Many organizations use fixed templates that require generic text to be copied and pasted into word documents. This process often results in disengagement and uninspiring documents.

5. They fail to capture the true value and purpose of a role: Job descriptions frequently overlook the core purpose and value of a job. Employees want to feel a sense of meaning in their work, but job descriptions rarely foster this. Highlighting the impact of the role and its connection to the organization’s purpose is crucial for motivation and well-being.

6. They are easily lost within organizations: Job descriptions often become lost and difficult to access or track centrally. This lack of organization leads to job descriptions being hidden away and only brought out for specific occasions, such as new appointments or annual reviews.

7. They lack organizational and people insights: Despite most individuals having a job description, these descriptions are not easily analyzed at an organizational level to gain insights into roles and required skills. This prevents organizations from effectively utilizing the valuable data contained within job descriptions.

In a time where data-driven practices are essential, it is unfortunate that the rich data within job descriptions cannot be effectively analyzed.


In conclusion, job descriptions have their limitations and may not always be useful in today’s dynamic work environment. While they provide a basic understanding of the role and responsibilities, they often fail to capture the full scope of a job and the skills required to excel in it. Companies should consider adopting more flexible and adaptable approaches to job descriptions to better align with the changing nature of work.

While detailed job descriptions have been the norm for many years, it is worth questioning whether companies can truly do without them. While some argue that they restrict creativity and limit employees’ potential, others believe that they provide clarity and structure. Ultimately, it depends on the organization’s culture, industry, and the specific job role. Companies should carefully evaluate the need for detailed job descriptions and consider alternative methods of communicating expectations and responsibilities.

Copying job descriptions from other companies may seem like a convenient shortcut, but it is not an effective practice. Each organization is unique, and job descriptions should reflect the specific needs and goals of the company. Copying job descriptions can lead to a mismatch between the job requirements and the skills of the employees, resulting in inefficiencies and dissatisfaction. It is crucial for companies to invest time and effort in crafting tailored job descriptions that accurately reflect their organizational culture and requirements.

While the traditional job description may be evolving, it is not yet obsolete. However, it is clear that job descriptions need to adapt to the changing nature of work. Companies should focus on creating more flexible and dynamic job descriptions that allow for growth, innovation, and adaptability. By incorporating broader skill sets, emphasizing outcomes rather than tasks, and providing room for creativity, job descriptions can become more effective tools for attracting and retaining top talent.

In conclusion, job descriptions should not be seen as rigid documents but rather as living documents that evolve with the organization and the job itself. By embracing a more flexible and adaptable approach, companies can better align job expectations with the changing needs of the workforce and create a more engaging and fulfilling work environment.

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