Are YOU Passionate about Service Improvement?

13 September, 2007

One area in which gobbledygook has run amok is British local government recruitment. Scour the public sector job ads in The Guardian and you’ll see countless ads for Diversity Managers, Inclusion Officers and the like, all accompanied by utterly incomprehensible job descriptions.

 Here’s an example I saw today – East Sussex County Council are looking for an Involvement & Consultation Project Manager, which apparently involves the following: 

This role’s all about providing that valuable support that helps make projects successful. You’ll be a natural ‘people person’ adept at working with groups to empower them to achieve their goals, as well as helping to ensure that the results of consultations are understood and translated into reality. With exceptional organisational and communication skills, you’ll have a passion for service improvement and will value hearing people’s views and acting on them.

Have you read between the lines? They want a secretary don’t they?

Providing valuable support = office lackey
People person = don’t argue when you’re told to make the tea
Helping to ensure that the results of consultations are understood and translated into reality = typing up reports
Exceptional organisational and communication skills = admin

It’s easy to laugh of course, but the chances are, when the recruitment process has finished, neither party (employer or new recruit) will have got what they wanted or expected. The employer ends up with a creative, gregarious, ambitious employee with project management experience, when they really needed a secretary or a more experienced admin assistant; the employee ends up doing basic admin tasks which are beneath their experience, quickly gets fed up, and inevitably infects the rest of the team with their disillusionment.

Such are the results of trying to tart up an essentially basic, mundane, entry-level job. Recruiters who write this sort of nonsense do a disservice to both themselves and their applicants. Better in the long run to write a warts & all ad, being honest about the nature of the job and the duties involved.

Even more insulting, but again sadly all too common, is this little beauty:

you’ll have a passion for service improvement

I’m sorry? A PASSION for service improvement? Come again? Similar cobblers can be seen on the website of a former employer of mine, who have since recruited someone who is “passionate about development methodologies”. Wow, I bet he’s fun at parties.

People are passionate about many things – their wives/husbands, music, art, dancing, sport & the like – but in all my life I have NEVER met anyone who was passionate about mundane business procedures. I enjoy designing Powerpoint slides, writing press releases and speaking at seminars, but that enjoyment is a long way from passion, and long may it remain so. Unless they’re in the adult film business, employers have no right to expect passion from employees.

 Employees want honesty, fair reward and appreciation of their work, and as much job security as economic conditions will permit. Give them that and they’ll reward you with commitment, hard work and enthusiasm. Oversell the job or expect them to live every moment at the office as if it is their last, and they won’t stay long.

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