What does a job description really say?

Sometimes when looking at the typical staffing specialist job description, I can barely keep myself from laughing. Recently I snagged a typical, run-of-the-mill staffing specialist job description from a well-known agency. (You could plug this in at virtually any agency or firm in the world.) You know how it begins:

Staffing Agency X has increased the demand for qualified individuals serving in the lucrative and personally rewarding field of Staffing Specialist.

Wow, that does draw me in. Lucrative? Sounds great. Personally rewarding? Yes, please.

But they forget to mention that those adjectives don’t come into play until much, much later – after you’ve spent countless hours filling out mind-numbing paperwork, combing through files to make sure everything is properly documented, vetting candidate after candidate for jobs that you’d be hard-pressed to properly describe because, quite simply, you don’t know a thing about the manufacturing industry. Or IT. Or any position in the medical field, for that matter.

But you’re expected to know this right off the bat. You need to know the lingo, the jargon, the cogs in the wheel, how every little minute is passed in a day in the life. How is that possible? Because, you think, if I knew everything about chemical engineering, wouldn’t I just become one myself?

That is where the lucrative part sucks you in. You hear stories about recruiters making six, even seven figures a year. You get weak in the knees just thinking about filling that ultimate vacancy and cashing in big-time (and only needing to do it a couple times a year to make just as much as your peers).

So you’re sold immediately. Now on to the nitty-gritty: the job functions.

Create an inventory of qualified temporary employees sufficient to meet current and future client demands.

Translation: You’ll spend most of your day talking to people who are putting their last bit of hope on you, who are angry about not being able to find a full-time job, who have exhausted every possible avenue before being assured by someone that Staffing Agency X could absolutely find them a job.

Then you’ll get the look of dismay when you ask them to tell you their life story (no holes, please) and hand over the keys to their private information before they’ve even got both butt cheeks nestled into the interview chair.

But the worst is when after you’ve gone through a rigorous interview process (latex gloves, anyone?) and you’ve patiently wrangled every last bit of pertinent information from your candidate, you have to tell them that you don’t have a job opening that matches their skills. At least not now.

When? No idea. Really? Really.

A background in therapy should be included in the job description, because that’s essentially what you’ll be doing. Your candidates will call you, many at least once a day, to check in and give you the latest financial blow that has rocked their world. And you’ll feel helpless, especially if you know they’d truly be a great addition to a company, but there just isn’t anything available.

Fills and services client orders. Maximizes use of Staffing Agency X’s office technology to ensure optimum, cost-effective, timely, and high-quality results.

Translation: We’ll pretty much do anything for business, so be prepared. If the client needs 70 people in the next hour for a ridiculously hard-to-fill job, we’re on it. Also, we didn’t quite get that ‘paperless is best’ memo – everything is still written down in longhand and filed away in impossibly huge cabinets that extend to the ceiling and date back to the late 80s. A fear of heights and ladders is not preferable.

Conducts reference and background checks on potential candidates as well as administration of skill assessments and drug testing.

Translation: At some point, you will need to patiently explain to a candidate that while you understand that marijuana can alleviate anxiety, it’s still very much illegal in (blank) state, and therefore if you fail a drug test, we can’t put you out on a job. Take it to your local congressman, not me.

Now for the job requirements, my favorite.

BBA in related field or HS Diploma with equivalent experience plus two years experience in a service-provider environment that requires self management and multi-tasking.

Translation: We don’t really care what you did before, as long as you can sell and do it well. Most likely you didn’t go to college thinking, “My dream in life is to be a staffing specialist …”

Able to communicate effectively and clearly in writing and orally, both in one-on-one and group presentation situations.

Translation: Don’t come to work drunk.

Must be available to work evening and weekend hours as necessary.

No translation necessary. It’s true, and be prepared to be inadequately compensated for your time.

In short, the staffing industry could benefit from a little more transparency, especially since it’s true that many staffing specialists go on to obtain that “lucrative” and “personally rewarding” career. But it takes a lot of work to get there.

I just didn't see that part anywhere in the fine print.

Tags: Business, Job description