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I spent a fair amount of time one night last week and rewrote a product manager job description, trying to make it better reflect exactly what I think we’re looking for and also make it more conversational. The folks at Pragmatic Marketing had it forwarded to them off a Google alert for their name and liked it a lot.  A Director at Pragmatic called me and said they forwarded it around the organization a lot late last week, and as a result, there was a lot of chatter about it.

Why the chatter? Turns out they think it’s a great example of understanding the buyer persona you’re trying to reach when marketing, and opted to include it in last week's Pragmatic newsletter that goes out to 45K subscribers per issue.  Here's Purple squirrel what the experts at Pragmatic had to say related to reaching buyer personas when writing a job description:

"Which job would you rather have? Product Manager? Or Product Whisperer?

In our seminars, we teach product managers and marketers the power of the buyer and user persona—a profile of that ideal customer. A persona includes a short biography, skill-set, technical literacy, and so on.

The effective marketer also uses the language of that persona in all customer communication. Instead of talking about flexibility, most customers respond better to designed for your business. While some personas desire scalability (or is it scaleability?), many personas prefer the only system designed for over one million transactions. For that matter, real-time—which means something different to developers than to marketers—might better be described as find out in time to make the right decision.

Personas have a style of learning and speaking—and it’s rarely vendor gobbledygook. But industry gobbledygook isn’t only found in product literature.

Consider the typical product manager job description:

As a candidate for this position, you must be experienced in product planning as well as project planning and management; you should be a self-starter and be result-oriented; you should be a person who has better skills on communication, customer-facing and problem-resolving.

That’s why it's such a pleasure to read a job posting written in the language of product managers… or at least the snarky type of product manager this company is apparently looking for..."

Then they listed the job description I penned for the Product Whisperer - you can find it here.  

Two lessons that I was reminded of based on rewriting this description and interacting with the folks at Pragmatic Marketing on it: 

1) It always pays to spend the time to make our open spots stand out, and

2) The less conservative you are in your writing, the better response from the people you’re trying to reach.  Spice it up, and the folks most likely to buy respond.  Play it safe, and the danger is that no one notices because you couldn’t cut through the static.  Why not choose to be different so the 10% you want to look do?  Who cares if the other 90% don’t get it?

And believe me, the other 90% don't get it.  Rewrite your job descriptions to remove all the buzzword crap and try to put a little flair to them, and you'll feel the negative nellies in the background.  KD's trying to be cute, he's just marketing DAXKO over the job, blah, blah, blah.  It's the threat of that type of reaction that keeps you from being creative.

I'm not trying to be cute by experimenting with this, I'm just trying to speak the language of the purple squirrel.  He or she is out there, and this is the language they speak.  

So, speak it already..
 

Comments

survivor

I agree that such descriptions are more 'human' and attractive. But would they work for bigger conservative corporate environments? It seems like they are used mostly in the domain of hip/techy companies. Also there can be some issues with job titles...listing 'Product Whisperer' on your resume might cause an initial pause or more questions from prospective future employers and may limit employee mobility in the market. But maybe that is one of the purposes here...ha !

Rob

As far as the new, "improved" posting, Snarky is right. Sarcasm must be job requirement #1.

Is Daxco owned by Perez Hilton? I'm all for snappy and attention-getting, but what a weird corporate culture this must breed...

survivor

One of the best job descriptions I have read in a while was this: http://www.webdesigndevelopmentjobs.com/jobs/15256/passionate-agile-software-developer-at-rmi-atlanta-ga-30309

The job isn't active anymore but the performance objectives were as alluring as the aforementioned writeup. Unique, non-corporate speak, an inspiring write up with no snark, and key tech speak dispersed throughout to seek out the purple squirrels in the market. 10/10 from me.

evilcatbert

Sorry - I have enough non-qualified candidates that send me resumes. If I want specific skills I need to ask for them - generalizations like "self-starter" and "results oriented" open the door for way too many candidates who believe they possess just those skills to send in their resumes - even though they are without the project planning and management skills asked for right before the generic/general characteristics.

KD

Hey all - I admit, I'm an easy target for putting myself out there like this. Will it work in a more corporate environment? Maybe, maybe not. The point is that what you're doing right now can be improved on.

If you're just saying "that's too snarky for me", you're missing the point - you've got to try and make what is lame better in a way that your culture can handle.

You get paid to make it better. You guys sound like you're just in the mode of saying "that won't work here".

My observation - no reply necessary or desired.

Mark Birch

It amazes me that the job description mafia has not put a hit out on you. See, the job description mafia has several important functions:

1) Ensure HR gets the task of writing jobs descriptions without any input or understanding of the job, business or industry,

2) Create dull sounding job descriptions that neither accurately describes the real skills needed for the job nor speak to the people that would be applying to the job,

3) Protects job descriptions from any changes for at least a 10 year period, recycling the old, outdated and grossly inaccurate wording to maximize your chance of hiring just the wrong candidate for the job.

My suggestion, Kris...wear a bullet proof jacket, hiding out in the Alabama hills, and keep on the lookout out for people like evilcatbert trying to take you out. I do however applaud your courage and hope to see more of your innovative thinking.

Jcirecruiter

Mark- any company that uses JDs in that way isn't a company any self-respecting HR person would work for!

It is a best practice to have managers update the job description prior to a job posting going live.

It is HR's job to ensure that the description is robust and the comp plan reflects the market value for the job.

evilcatbert

Mea culpa, everyone. I didn't mean to come across so snarky - my head was hurting from reading so many resumes that I couldn't use when I originally responded.
Let me try to redeem myself. My only point (and it should have been much less pointed) was that I've tried creative ways to post to get qualified applicants but still keep coming back to the basics - posting exactly what we are looking for in a qualified applicant, while not as effective as I would like, is still more effective than other approaches I've tried.
Thanks for reading my repost.

KD

Hey - no prob evil catbert, you are always welcome here - keep bringing the opinion!!

KD

evilcatbert

Thanks, KD - I appreciate the feedback (both positive and negative) since it helps me keep perspective.

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