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5 Tips on the Art of Writing Job Descriptions

by The Creative Group

There’s a lot of variety when it comes to job descriptions, from the overly casual to the dense, dry and daunting. Ideally, there’s a balance. Let’s find out how to strike it. Check out our tips on writing job descriptions.

Are your job descriptions too laid back? Certain job descriptions scream “super-fun workplace” by leading with the company’s informal culture (Shoes? What shoes?) and ample perks (Did we mention there’s a dog park? And a nap room? Yeah, they’re just beyond the foosball tables). This type of job description’s tone is casual but job seekers may walk away not understanding the ins and outs of the position. (What does a “social media maven” actually do, anyway?)

On the other side of the spectrum, there are the more traditional corporations that tend to be business in the front and in the back. Often, these job descriptions are laden with company-specific jargon and idealistic dream lists of required skills. In addition, larger organizations can run the risk of creating job descriptions that feel more mass-produced than personalized, making it difficult for some candidates to connect with the company. Focusing strictly on “work” while neglecting “play” can make job descriptions — and companies — seem a little dull.

The key is for creative hiring managers to write job descriptions that are both informative and inspiring. Remember, if the job you’re describing doesn’t intrigue, you won’t likely get the type of applicants you’re seeking.

Writing job descriptions that strike a balance

“A well-written job description can mean the difference between a trickle or a flurry of qualified applicants,” says Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “Conversely, a poorly written job description can significantly expand the quantity of unqualified applicants. Writing a good job description requires an ability to prioritize essential skills and qualities while also ‘selling’ your company to job seekers.”

In other words, hiring managers must walk a line when writing job descriptions — they must understand not only how to describe the position and its necessary skills, but also sell both the position and the workplace culture to qualified candidates.

Here are five tips to keep in mind when writing job descriptions for creative jobs:

1. Think of the job description as a blueprint. If you put time and thought into writing a job description, the rest of the hiring process should move along more easily. These are the key elements of a well-written job description:

  • The job or position title (and job code number, if applicable)
  • The department within the organization in which the position exists
  • The reporting structure for the position, both up and/or down, as applicable
  • A brief summary of the position and its overarching responsibility or function or role within the organization
  • A list of the position’s essential duties
  • The specific knowledge, skills, work history, or other experiences, training, language, or aptitudes required for the job
  • The educational requirements for the job, such as degrees and certifications
  • Qualities or attributes that contribute to superior performance in the position

2. Update, update, update. Many creative jobs are far different from what they were a few years ago. As technology evolves and the lines between creative and technology roles continue to blur, some job descriptions may need to be updated more frequently. Job descriptions, therefore, should take into account the expanded skill sets now required. Think about what the job should entail based on your company’s current needs and long-term objectives. Viewing the job description as a benchmark for performance of the successful candidate will help you determine if the description is accurate and thorough enough.

3. Get your priorities in order. Don’t scare off a potential top candidate by overdoing the “must-haves.” A laundry list of duties gives little insight into what is most important, and it can make good people shy away. Focus on the five or six crucial responsibilities of the position. Consider consulting high-performing employees in the same role for help developing the list of core duties and requisite skills.

4. Don’t hunt for unicorns. You may want a rock-star-of-all-trades, but settling only for this will hold you back. Make sure your job description is realistic for the role — seeking a creative director who can also write press releases and sell advertising will greatly limit your pool of qualified applicants, especially given the competition for top creative talent today.

5. Be you. Show some personality! While you want to use clear and concise language, you also should give applicants a sense of your company’s culture (read: fun side). The right position at the wrong company can make a new hire walk right back out the door, which will cost you time and money. So tell a story or paint a picture about what it’s truly like to work for your company.

As with any type of writing, one of the best ways to ensure that you’ve hit the mark is to run your job description by a fellow manager or an employee in the position you’re hiring for and incorporate their feedback. You might even turn to a professional copywriter if you need help choosing the right words, or simply follow these copywriting tips. Although you may be in a hurry to fill a position, taking some extra time to shine a favorable light on te job and the company is a worthy investment.

Hiring creative professionals? Not sure where to start? The Creative Group can help.

More talk on this subject will be happen during SF Design Week at the re:think design conference on June 9 in San Francisco. Join us!

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Why Are Ad Agencies So Poor At Appointing Their Creative Leaders?

Ad agencies have a dreadful record in appointing new creative leadership.

by Michael Lee for Forbes

Agencies proudly announce a new star hiring, that is a “great creative and cultural fit with the agency,” only to announce 18 months later that person has decided to “pursue other opportunities” but, they have uncovered another “star” who is really going to turn the agency work around this time and lead them to the promised land.

There’s a reason Agency Spy has a section called Revolving Door.

The Creative Director, Executive Creative Director, Chief Creative Officer, call it what you will, is the heart and soul of an agency, basically the sexiest job in the agency.

It’s also the most volatile. Probably up there with the tenure of a CMO.

It’s the job everyone in the creative department wants, although I have a theory that deep down they don’t actually want the job, but they sure as heck don’t want anyone else to have it.

Most agencies assume that if you are a very good creative, you will make a very good creative leader. Wrong. It’s a different job, different skill sets, different needs and abilities.

Very few great creative people make good creative directors.

So I thought it would be interesting to chat with friends at Wieden + Kennedy who seem to get these appointments right more often than not, and see if we can pick up a few pointers.

I spoke with Karl Lieberman, who has recently moved from Wieden + Kennedy in Portland to assume the role of Executive Creative Director in the Wieden + Kennedy’s New York office.

Karl and his partner Neal Arthur (WKNY’s Managing Director) run the 200 people WKNY office together, reporting back to Colleen DeCourcy, Global Executive Creative Director and Dave Luhr, President. Their client roster includes Bud Light, ESPN, Delta, the Jordan Brand, Equinox, Sprite and Spotify.

Karl was one of the originators of the Dos XX “Most interesting Man in the World” campaign… (no really, many people have attached their name to that campaign, but Karl was one of the original team who came up with it) and has been with W+K Portland since 2007 where he was recently running KFC, Yoplait, the P&G Olympics “Thank You, Mom” brand work and Travel Oregon.

I hired Karl to work on Volvo when I was ECD at EURO/RSCG. Some people you feel are not only going to have stellar creative careers, but have the personality and focus to become a great creative leader.

Karl, I believed even then, was one of the latter.

As we’re in a political year, I thought it would be worth a chat and see how his first 100 days were going as a freshly minted Executive Creative Director.

Michael Lee: You’ve been ECD now for about four months, is it different than expected?

Karl Lieberman: I’ve actually found that the jump from CD to ECD is not too dissimilar from the jump from being a creative to being a CD.

When you’re a creative, you’re basically trying to drive a 2007 Buick LeSabre that’s on fire down a winding mountain road in a blinding hailstorm.

When you’re a creative director, you’re trying to do the same, but you’re in the passenger seat and you’re not supposed to touch the steering wheel.

And when you’re an ECD, you’re still trying to do the same thing, but now you’re in the trunk and everyone keeps texting you.

This article originally appeared in Forbes.

MichaelLee  Michael Lee writes about creativity in marketing.

 

 

 

 

 

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