The change job ad I'd like to see
Every now and then I check the web, LinkedIn and Seek for new opportunities. I know, there’s pros and cons, but sometimes I just want to see what’s out there and nearly every time it’s more than a bit disappointing. I am not talking about the jobs, there’s plenty if you want them, it’s the way they are described. Reading those posts feels like the authors used a bot, cut and pasted from five different job ads of similar organisations or decided that ‘War and Peace’ really needed another chapter. Not great.
To me, this signals a few potential areas for improvement:
The future of work clearly has not yet arrived in most organisations, who still feel that they’re in the driver’s seat and talent will have to come to them (sure, you keep thinking that) so they make a half-hearted attempt at being an attractive employer and think that’s good enough.
A 6 or 12-month contract is apparently still considered to be the highest attainable goal, only surpassed by ‘the possibility of permanency’ (insert angelic choir and rays of sunshine breaking through clouds here). Really?! Do you even understand change management at all? And how do you even know that 6 months will be enough, what if you finish in 3? Do you just spin your wheels for the next 3 months? Yikes.
A little bit of creativity would go a long way. Every job seems to be exciting, senior, pivotal, urgent, critical, versatile and essential to the future of the organisation. Right, so that’s why you’re interviewing people by the dozen, through recruiters and standardised processes, pay them just reasonably and have non-descript job descriptions that are so generic they could apply to at least 10 other roles as well? I see, how’s that working out? While I regularly sing the praises of Prosci and their research and models, I don’t feel that their ‘how to write a change management job description’ is particularly innovative or inspiring. That being said, it’s still better than just making stuff up.
Fourth and final, companies lie, a lot. Now this might not come as a surprise and I have been called naïve (thanks!) on more than one occasion but the only real excuse for misrepresenting a position so badly it doesn’t even resemble the actual job is if you honestly have no clue what to ask for. And that’s a bit of a problem in itself, isn’t it?
I will admit, I do enjoy the often cynical and sometimes feral debates on Linkedin and other places about scum of the earth recruiters and idiot applicants, but I’d rather provide an alternative. A job ad that I’d like to read and respond to. It goes something like this:
Hi Change community,
We at company X love making widgets that do good things for good people and we’ve grown so much while doing it that we are now facing some serious challenges. Work is still fun, the future looks bright, but we’re not as happy as we used to be. Honestly, all this seriousness and worrying is getting to us and we fear it’s also impacting our clients’ service experience. We’ll just admit it, we could do with some help but are simply not change savvy enough and too damn busy to figure out where to start. Yeah, we know that’s a problem right there but Rome wasn’t built in a day, okay? We understand it’s important that we own the change and we want to learn how to do just that, we just need a bit of support in getting started and maybe some tips and tricks along the way? Once you feel you’ve done your best work, we’ll try to let you go and be spectacular somewhere else, but we’ve been known to have abandonment issues. Just saying.
About the job
We’re not sure where you should start and what you should do, so we’re not going to make statements about how long it might take or come up with fancy sounding tasks and responsibilities. How about you tell us? We’ll design the job around you, let you be part of that conversation and figure it out together. You bring the change smarts, we’ll ask lots of questions and by the end of it all, we should have a semblance of a plan. The CEO is prepared to back a smart plan that is co-designed all the way. Yeah, we know, she’s pretty awesome like that.
What’s in it for you
An opportunity to share in our success and do cool, meaningful stuff with cool people who promise to do their best to work with you. How does that sound? We work hard and know how to have fun and we’ll assume that like us you want to feel appreciated, so how about this; tell us what you think you should get in return for being awesome and we’ll see if we can match it. See, we like to keep it simple, no hidden agendas, no difficult negotiations or ball park figures and lists of options. There’s one thing though, we don’t do fixed contracts or day rates. Actually, we don’t do contracts at all, we trust each other to do the right thing and we hate paperwork (but we have Janet and Phil, they live for that stuff and we keep them entertained). If that freaks you out, we’re probably not a match, but if we’ve made you curious, keep reading.
Our contact details are on the page and we’ve got a short bio for everyone except Jim, he’s our goldfish/guard dog and is convinced he does his best work in anonymity. We’re not going to bore you with our inspiring values or beliefs, give us a call or drop us a line saying you want to meet and see what we’re about and potentially help us with the change challenges we face. Whatever you do, please don’t send your CV, we’d feel obliged to read it and we’d really rather talk to you in person anyway. You’ll talk to the person who you’ll work with most and they will decide from our end if there’s a match. We promise to be honest and straightforward and by the end of the conversation we’ll both know if we like each other enough to want to hang out more or if it stops there.
your future colleague C!
It might not be for everyone, but I’d take it any day over the dreary majority out there. If you‘ve got some great and creative examples to share, feel free to drop them in the comment section, I might learn a thing or two!