Recruiters - are you confusing your poor applicants?

The advertisement below for a Customer Service Leader crossed my desk the other day. I felt compelled to comment on it. I’ve deleted identifying details to protect myself from the advertiser coming after me with a red hot poker after reading what I’ve written.


Stay with me and take a long hard look at the advertisement.


Customer Service Leader


Manage a customer service team in the provision of whole of business customer services that meet the needs of internal and external customers and clients and support the delivery of core business.



  • Plan, lead and manage the allocation of delivery support resources as required to meet delivery needs
  • Manage the provision of high quality customer service to meet the needs of all internal and external customers
  • Provide advice and feedback to the Manager and other relevant senior staff
  • Manage escalated customer complaints, issues and problems
  • Lead staff to maximise customer service provision, productivity and improve performance, ethical practice and processes within areas of responsibility
  • Manage the development of staff by identifying training needs and assisting in skill development to provide opportunities for multi-skilling and improved customer service to strengthen the contribution of delivery support staff to the delivery of core business
  • Engage staff in large teams in the implementation of new initiatives and change processes
  • Participate in and contribute to the development and implementation of state-wide and company wide initiatives involving system and process improvement
  • Ensure that agreed targets for customer service are identified, communicated and achieved in line with the company’s strategic objectives
  • Participate as a team member in supporting the customer service functions across the company, as required, to ensure that the objectives of the company’s Strategic Plan are achieved
  • Order and receive equipment, consumables and minor plant using departmental financial systems as required
  • Use computer to undertake a variety of tasks as required


Does it read well?




Is it informative?


I don’t think so.


Disturbingly, this advertisement was actually one small section of a 23 page application pack that applicants received.


My main issues are these.


Not only does it read like every other customer service role, but nowhere in that 23 page document did it actually say who the customers are, and what their needs may be. The advertisement did not give a true insight into what the job may involve in terms that everyone understands.


I work with people who are looking for roles. I help them navigate processes like these. Disappointingly, I have to say, this is fairly typical of many of the advertisements I see.


People need context.


Here are a few questions that immediately occurred to me when I read this:


  • What type of customers?
  • What type of questions do they have?
  • What are the challenges/pressures of the role?
  • What is the Customer Service Leader supposed to achieve in terms of levels of service they manage? Why?
  • How big is the team they manage?
  • Why does the position exist?
  • Why is the position in the organizational structure in the way it is?


I would not suggest putting all of this in an advertisement. Some information is best left to interview. But here’s how I think the introduction could read:


“You will be working within a busy call centre managing a small team of people responsible for answering customer inquiries about their credit cards, loans, insurance and other banking products. We pride ourselves on our strict service standards, including answering the phone within three rings. Ultimately within this role, you will need to manage the recruiting, training and performance of our staff to ensure we meet those standards.”


With this, instantly, applicants can get a sense of what they’ll be doing.


From an attachment point of view, the impact of fluffy wording might be bigger than you think.


1) The recruitment process takes longer. You will receive applications from people who do not understand the role. You may miss out on people who eliminate themselves from the role, thinking it is beyond them. You may even have to re-advertise the role.

2) If you do not provide proper, plain speaking context, the applicant may not ask for it. Many people find the interview process intimidating and forget that they too can ask questions.

3) There will always be a gap between what the applicant will be doing, and what they think they’ll be doing. Accuracy of job representation is a critical driver to attachment.

4) When someone gets the job, their business awareness may be limited. Having limited sense of where they sit in the business, they will not perform to their full capacity or feel full loyalty to the organisation.


Plain speaking isn’t just for people like me – pedantic blog posters with confused clients. The impact it has on recruitment and attachment is clear.


Your thoughts?


This post, is from our blog and was written by contributor Karalyn Brown. Her site is:

Views: 1863

Comment by ross clennett on September 9, 2011 at 9:49

Superb post, Anthony. Unfortunately what you highlight is common place throughout the recruitment market place. In placing a job ad the writer should always be looking to sell an opportunity, not describe a job.


Selling an opportunity relies upon context because jobs with the same job title have about 80% of the same responsibilities. Providing context (your suggestions were excellent) ensures the ad stands out because the focus is on the differences not the similarities of that job, compared to other jobs with the same job title.


How hard can it be?

Comment by Angelo Pietrobon on September 9, 2011 at 10:38
Far too true. Working for the Government they have the longest job descriptions and written in bureaucratese so that they say everything and nothing. In many instances the job descriptions are taken from the 'cookie cutter'  - you read enough of them and they all sound the same. The difference I guess is the 'captive employee market' and the legal protection that needs to come from this.

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