Your Job Descriptions Are Unhealthy

In my house, the longest ingredient label is on canned dog food.
In my house, the longest ingredient label is on canned dog food.

I am one of those people who block your way in the grocery store aisle while I carefully read the ingredient label on almost everything I take off the shelf.

I do it because I am pretending to be conscience about my health, and part of that awareness,  I’ve been told, is to avoid certain ingredients and additives that are going to kill me quickly.

I have realized lately that this is just so much bullshit, really, because truly healthy eating doesn’t require reading any labels. Not one. Because where is the healthiest food in the grocery store?

It’s in the produce section – where there are no ingredient labels on a bunch of spinach or carrots. Or in the fresh meat, poultry, or seafood section,because a piece of fish doesn’t need any label.  A loaf of bread has a relatively large list of ingredients, but a bag of flour describes just one, like  “unbleached white” or “whole wheat”.

The more over-engineered and over-processed a food item is, the longer the list of ingredients. The longer that list is, the more likely it is that you shouldn’t be eating the food if you are interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The same could be said of that staple of HR practice: the job description.

Read a standard job description from your basic company. It’s full of ingredients, most of which aren’t any more healthy or understandable than “sodium acid pyrophosphate” or “acesulfame potassium”.  It says things like “able to compile and analyze performance data that support decision-making for resource allocation and subsequent campaigns“. Or how about “able to develop a strategic decision-making, prioritization, and governance process“?


Those phrases came from an actual job description – found on the web – for a marketing director. I like this one better, for a similar job, but from a different company: Be an all-around marketing goddess (or god).

Simple. Understandable. Healthy.

Health experts will tell you to avoid eating foods that have more than 5 ingredients in their nutrition label. I have a feeling that most HR pros will argue to the death that there is no way they can limit their job description to 5 qualities or functions. Fair enough.  But if you are an HR pro, look at your job descriptions and ask yourself this:

Can I briefly and succinctly explain what this description/qualification is and why it is essential to this job?

If you can’t, get rid of it. If you can, reduce the qualification/description to less than 10 easy to understand words.

Your job description, and your company, will be healthier.