Can you tell me what your job is in 3 seconds? Read this before you write your resume!

“If you can’t describe your job in one sentence, you are either a nuclear physicist or your job shouldn’t exist.”

Recently read a great article in the FT by Lucy Kellaway, entitled “Waffle and waste of money are hallmarks of the non-job” where she goes after some of the incredibly awful job descriptions you can find in the job columns. Here are some examples and her wit in vivisecting them:

  • “Liveability Theme Manager” at Oldham council, in the north of England… The council is searching for a “motivational leader with determination and stamina to successfully deliver our key strategic outcomes”. The ideal candidate must have “a good understanding of neighbourhood solutions”, and will earn up to £38,010 a year. (She sees this as an affront to the English language – is Livablity a word? split infinities, half a dozen cliche’s wrapped in hyperbole)
  • The British Transport Police: “Due to internal growth we have a rare opportunity for a Positive Action Support Coordinator to join our Leadership and Diversity Team” (the internal growth makes her think of tumors)
  • The Westminster Drug and Alcohol Action team looking for an “Information and Performance manager” “Joining our busy and vibrant team, you will facilitate and manage reporting systems that ensure DAATpartnership and DIP teams are fully briefed on all relevant data” (she is confident only that the team is not vibrant and that the Westminster drug problem is not about to get any better)
  • An HR head whose duties include “implementing and embedding HR policy and process, ensureing delivery of a value added service” (she sees only three word that do not set off alarms – “and”, “of” and “a”)
  • She also highlights several typcial problems: verbs like develop and implement, warning words like effective, systems, strategies, best practice, deliver, meaningful, sustainable.

Read this before you write your resume. And also how about reading it before you put up the “about” copy on your website. Go through any corporate website or browse any VC’s porfolio and you will ikely see a lot of maximizing and leveraging and providing premier solutions to non descript customers with problems so vague that only a psychiatrist could help them. Keeping it simple and straight forward it key to pitching not just for you but for your company, product or offering. Remember your ABCs and XYZs.

(PS: take a look at Jobster – an Ignition portfolio company – for their joblisting. Personally I have to say my favorite is Microsoft MSN’s “Be the Butterfly”)