Updated: Jan 24
Reading the average job ad today is a confusing experience.
Most follow the same format. We’re different - even though we sound pretty much like 90% of every other business out there. We’re looking for ambitious, results-oriented people - as long as they deliver the following 101 set tasks while aligning to our values. We need people who can take our business forward – but only by proving that they have done exactly the same as we’re doing today, in an almost identical environment, operating at roughly the same level.
Is it just me, or do these messages seem contradictory?
They seem to be saying - we need fresh thinking, but your value to us is measured entirely upon your ability to repeat the past. We offer dynamic career opportunities, as long as you comply with our rigid and complicated ways of working. We want independently driven, motivated individuals, but only if you conform to our ways of working, ‘fixing yourself’ to fit in.
Beyond just being confusing, are these types of job adverts now becoming pointless?
The digital age has brought about a huge amount of change. The half-life of skills is falling rapidly as new technologies, approaches and even new industries disrupt existing marketplaces. AI and automation can deliver an increasing proportion of the transactional, repeatable tasks required in most organisations. Workforces now play a much more important role building customer trust, differentiating products and services as well as improving customer loyalty. All of these forces are changing the skills and experience companies need.
In fact, businesses are increasingly reliant on the cognitive skills and behaviours that can unravel complex issues, solve dynamic problems in real time, unify increasingly disbursed teams or develop powerful lasting relationships with customers. Human capital value is now defined by the great cognitive leaps and the rich relationships that humans are uniquely placed to deliver.
So why do most job adverts - and by extension most job descriptions – continue to emphasise and measure candidates’ ability to repeat the past, when it is their ability to create a completely different future that matters?
Why do so few seek critical reasoning and entrepreneurial skills essential to spot and grow new economic opportunities?
Why do they ignore the vital attributes of digital literacy, data interrogation or empathy and collaboration, when these are attributes that deliver competitive advantage in the digital age?
Until we see job ads start to look ahead for the skills companies need to take them forward, rather than maintaining an increasingly broken status quo, businesses will struggle to attract, select and inspire the talent that underpins their long-term success.