No one washes a rented car

No one washes a rented car

I just love that phrase! I think I may have used it 3 times this past week. It is just the perfect headline for this post…which has to do with job descriptions…what is the point of them? How many times have you accepted a job and come to realize that nothing in the description is in fact what you are doing day in and day out? In fact, the position ultimately gets redefined as you begin uncovering the needs.

To be honest, it is far better this way. Having the flexibility to evolve the definition of the job in order to reach the goal is key. Find me one employer who doesn’t want to meet his goal after all? Therefore, to return to my headline, my belief is that if you let people create their role, they will be more invested in success because they own that position. After all, they created it!

Too often an employer has no idea what they are looking for…but they are looking and they “think” they know what they want. When you begin speaking with them, it is clear that they cannot put to words what they seek and ultimately spend their time asking you, the candidate, what the role should be. The definition of the job description should simply be the end goal for the employer and have the specifics of the role be TBDBE (to be determined by employee).

I can only speak from experience about the world of marketing and communications, however it is very possible there are other industries affected.

I spent part of my weekend with a good friend and her boyfriend, who owns a small but growing company in NY. He is currently looking for someone to do his marketing but isn’t quite sure how to define his needs. Not unusual in my world.

Why is this becoming such a common trend? I feel that a big reason this affects marketing and communications jobs is simply the fact that no one really understands how to market anymore. Gone are the days of focusing only on traditional marketing. Digital is everyone’s best friend but yet, many still don’t understand it nor how to use it and even more so, if they even should? After all, is their audience spending their time online and if so, where?

Combining digital and traditional is just the surface of a robust marketing strategy. However it is key to consider the many other aspects as well: PR, Advertising, Partnerships/Sponsorships…the list goes on. The great news is…there is a fabulous new description for those of us whom have various marketing skills. It is called…drum roll please…INTEGRATED MARKETING. This is the new sexy term that you want to be throwing around if this is the world you work in.

Returning back to my my friend’s boyfriend who we will call Finn. He was handling every aspect of his company-from sales to operations to marketing and then some. However, like most CEO’s with growing companies, he came to realize that he simply couldn’t do it all and even if he could, he didn’t know how. He realized that he needed help marketing his company and had been told that he should consider using social media to do the task. When we met, he had already interviewed a number of people yet his job description was all of two lines. In summary, he wanted someone with social media knowledge and someone who could fix computers at the same time.

This reminded me of a boss I had a couple of years ago who hired me to be his director of digital communications for a conference he was running. However, every step of the way he would challenge me with his “knowledge” of having worked in IT and therefore, he claimed he understood what I was doing. Although I tried explaining that I didn’t work in information technology, he was one of those “know it all” types. In the end, you can never teach an old dog new tricks so I gave up explaining what I actually did for him.

Ultimately, I created my own job, my own description and based on the needs, goals and the learnings along the way, I evolved my work as often as needed. Why? Because my boss had no idea what I did but somehow knew he needed someone focused on digital communications and marketing.

And that is my point in this post. Much like my former boss, my new friend Finn has found himself in a similar situation as many employers have. They know they need to have digital communications (social media and then some)…they all inquire about it but yet don’t know what to do with it, how to use it and whether they should. Thus, they create job descriptions that make little sense and receive responses by interested candidates who don’t meet the needs which will achieve the goal.

What I have found is that in many jobs, I have created my role. The job description becomes one designed by me. Based on what I feel is needed, I evolve the definition and my employer will generally go along with it, partly because they don’t know otherwise and partly because they realize I do. Trust is key. But so is hiring someone with some years of experience. Someone who is able to recognize a great opportunity, have the skill set to create a strategy that is integrated and robust which considers all aspects of marketing, beyond that of social media.

So, it is important to own it, not rent it!

Flexibility and trust is key-something which most employers are fearful of however more and more are facing their fear. If you are the employer, this is food for thought. Do your due diligence. Have a few conversations. Finn is doing just that. By speaking to people who know what they are doing and getting a few opinions, he is finding that many have the same train of thought. Now he has a much better idea of what he needs but he also realizes the value in an ever-evolving position and putting less emphasis on a too specific description.

In the end, results will be your judge. Wash away my friends!