January 17, 2023

Job Descriptions: Classic No More

A Brief History of the “Job Description”
The classic job description (JD) has been around since the emergence of the industrial economy. With the development of paper manufacturing in the early 1300s, recruitment flyers became increasingly popular, as they could be hung up in town squares for everyone to see.

Today, we see job descriptions everywhere: from popular search engines such as Google, Indeed, and Glassdoor, to hiring posters with tear-off tabs outside your local grocery store. They’re so ingrained into our ways of attracting and retaining talent that we rarely stop to consider whether the job description itself reflects the true nature of the position. 

While some well-written JD’s can accurately convey the demands and needs of the position in question, they often implicitly assume that the core elements of a job are static, fixed, and unchanging.


Farewell to Job Descriptions
The reality is that many modern jobs consist of a number of elements, all of which are subject to change with a moment’s notice. For a long time, JDs helped potential candidates quickly self-assess whether or not they had the knowledge to perform the job function at hand, or if they could learn the basic skills quickly enough to be hired. 

During the Industrial Era, a vast majority of positions required familiarity with machinery—once you learned how to operate the machine, an employee permanently gained the knowledge and competencies to perform the job consistently and reliably. The unchanging nature of these positions meant that firms could consistently rely on job descriptions to attract potential employees, which in turn helped firms increase consistency in the quality of products produced, and—most importantly—increase their profits. 

However, in a time when organizations are encouraging their employees to seek out greater autonomy in their work and “go beyond” what’s stated in their job description, companies are only beginning to recognize the importance of reconfiguring JDs for the future. Our economies are no longer industrial, but mainly knowledge-based—and this should be reflected in how organizations hire and retain employees. 

The Future of Work is Competency Science
Today, artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the ways in which companies are hiring by replacing the traditional JD with a data-backed method: competency science. As the work we do becomes increasingly multi-dimensional and cross-functional, leveraging competency science enables firms to identify an employee’s transferable talents and provide an accurate picture of their growth potential

How Claira Can Help
At Claira, we’re exploring new ways to make work less “task-specific” and more “people-centric.” 

Organizations are already focusing their attention to increasing key business outcomes by hiring individuals that exhibit the capacity to learn, grow, and adapt. As businesses respond to emerging threats and opportunities, identifying individuals who are resilient and adaptable in the face of change is critical for success in the 21st century and beyond

Claira’s machine learning engine can help leaders predict both the current and future capabilities of their workforce, all while developing realistic goals based on current and future projections. By combining machine learning and market data to analyze an organization’s strengths and weaknesses, Claira’s platform can generate a competency map that enables leaders to visualize their people’s capabilities, source talent internally, and identify gaps and growth opportunities—all of which traditional JDs are incapable of doing.

With the future demanding agility and precision now more than ever before, shifting the focus from filling a role to optimizing your people can be the key to accelerating business performance for now and the future.

Kyra Au
Digital Marketing Associate

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