My wife has written an interesting perspective on the huge waste of time that is created when a job description is vague and doesn’t really identify the job you might be applying for.
It struck a chord with me not only from previous job searches, but also from things I’ve seen and heard in both the technology and legal industries. (Especially in the legal technology area!) It seems all too common for there to either be “formal” job descriptions, that describe the job as it was done the last time someone in HR got on the everyone needs a formal job description bus, no matter how many years ago that was, or something thrown together at the last minute by people who have never done the job they are now advertising for.
The latter situation comes about because of a pure lack of planning. Someone resigns and everyone is caught by surprise. There’s no succession plan, no cross-training has been done, and there’s no clear immediate steps identified for replacing that person. It usually takes longer than the two weeks notice to even make any sort of decision about hiring a replacement, therefore there’s no input on what to look for from the person who has actually been doing the job.
On the other hand, the former situation comes about because there was, at one time, an attempt to develop succession plans, and identify the steps necessary to assure work continues to get done in the interim, but those plans have not been updated in years. Things change, quickly, in any technology area. New tools are brought in, roles change, staff members assume new responsibilities, etc. Dusting off the years old descriptions is not going to give you a clear understanding of the skills you are currently looking for.
In both situations, you wind up reviewing resumes and maybe even interviewing a lot of people who aren’t good fits at all for the job you currently need to fill.Wasting your time, and theirs.