Anyone who’s looked for job opportunities has seen job descriptions of all kinds. Some are brief, some are elaborate. Some descriptive, some vague, some honest, some hyperbolic. But regardless of what the description contains, many of them don’t accurately reflect the reality of the day-to-day requirements and expectations of the role. Marketers who want to find the right job and avoid landing in a position they hadn’t signed up for need to go the extra mile to find the true job description.
Why the Job Description You See Might Not be Accurate
Have you ever taken on a new job or gotten deep into the interview process for one, only to find out it was considerably different from what you expected? That’s especially common in marketing, where responsibilities can shift quickly and job boundaries tend to be amorphous and flexible.
A common cause of this confusion is weak and/or inaccurate job descriptions. They are often the first impression that you’ll have of a position, and that tends to stick with you and shape your perceptions. A poorly written, misinformed, or out of date job description paints a misleading picture. Even very large businesses and experienced marketing placement agencies can be guilty of publishing them. That can cause you to overlook great jobs, take interest in roles that aren’t right for you, or step into a position doing things completely different things than you imagined. It happens more than you might realize, and for a variety of reasons. For instance:
- The Writer of the Description Doesn’t Understand the Job: As funny as it sounds, very frequently the people within a company assigned the responsibility of writing job descriptions don’t truly understand the purpose or goals of the job. The duty is often fulfilled by a member of the HR team who is good at their job but not necessarily familiar with the demands of modern marketing, or passed off by a busy executive to one of their subordinates who doesn’t have a big picture perspective of why the hire is being made and what kind of marketer needs to be found. This often leads to vague or generic job descriptions that don’t fully encompass the scope of the role.
- Using Old Job Descriptions: When a new hire needs to be made quickly, businesses and lower-quality marketing placement agencies will often dig up an old job description for a same or similar job that was used years ago. Of course, as quickly as marketing is changing these days, it doesn’t take long for a job description become outdated. The responsibilities of today’s marketers–the good ones, at least–are constantly shifting in response to new trends, technology and data. If you’re reading a reused job description, it probably doesn’t represent the actual expectations that will be placed on you when you join.
The Trick to Finding the “Real” Job Description from Employers and Marketing Placement Agencies
Hunting down the true job description of a marketing job you’re considering is difficult because you won’t find it written anywhere. It’s stuck in the hearts and heads of the people responsible for hiring you–whether they know it or not. To find it, you’ll have to do some work. But that effort will pay off:
- You’ll get a better understanding of the true expectations of the job and will better understand if it’s a marketing career move you really want to make
- You’ll uncover more of the goals and pain points this hire is trying to address, which will give you valuable insight that you can translate into better preparation for your interviews
The secret to finding the “real” job description is simple: you just have to ask the job’s hiring manager!
But you don’t want to ask them directly; instead, you should use leading questions like “What does success look like for this position?” and “What do you want this role to have accomplished after 12 months?” or “If this person exceeds all your expectations over the next year, what results will they have accomplished and how will the company have benefited?”
Unfortunately, it’s very hard to get this more honest description before you’ve entered the marketing recruitment and interview system of the organization. Your best opportunity is early on in the process, preferably during an initial phone conversation or first round of interviews.
From their answers, you should be able to glean some revealing insights into what problems they’re trying to solve and what kind of performance they expect from this role. That’s more useful than even the most accurate and well-written job descriptions–and of course incredibly more valuable than a poorly-designed one!