I'm sorry, I need a better job description. It's the law.

Temp workers were protesting in South Boston  on September 1st in favor of the REAL (Reform Employment Agency Law) Act which a few Massachusetts State Reps are sponsoring. I found one item interesting, which is to "provide written notice of key job description details to the worker ".   As I heard myself belt out loud a nice "HA", I thought… yeah it isn't always the agency's fault.


Over the course of my 15+ plus years recruiting, I unfortunately came across  one sentence job descriptions from the client more than I like to remember.  What a world it could become if instead of having to beg for more information , I could say; " I am sorry, but it is the law and I need a better job description." 


The recruiting world could get even more interesting if  recruiters could deny a sales person attention on their order because the job description is not complete.  I can hear the harps playing now...


Obtaining a good job description really takes some work, but work that always pays off.  Clients don't have time to work with agencies on better job descriptions  and often times, we accept what little tidbits we can get and run with it.    Although, the idea of having a law to be our scapegoat is a nice dream, We don't need it!   As my husband would say, just give it some  Chutzpah! (Yiddish for  gutsy audacity).


Here are a few tips that I always found successful:


  1. Do your research - Have you worked on this order before? What were the candidates backgrounds like  that didn't get selected?  Use this as a conversation point.
  1. Who is their biggest competition - Locating a candidate from the client's competition gives you an incredible edge.
  1. What was the client's best employee?  Who was the worst? Why? - I find that people enjoy telling stories more than just giving you boring job description facts. Listen to the stories of the great and not so great employees.  As recruiters, we can always match the technical skills, but it is the soft skills that always sell the candidate.
  1. Close the client - Ensure you hear from the client why someone should would love to work there. 


So, that's are back to school lesson for today!  Now go get a better job description, because  we shouldn't have to depend on a law to get it!


The Act does speak to other items, and you can read the article here if you would like to see more detail.

Views: 388

Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on September 8, 2011 at 9:48am

Hi Melissa:  Great post.  Most clients, surprisingly, don't understand or know how to write a job spec.  In HR school they don't teach it either. I am not sure what the Massachusetts law is, but it will probably help recruiters (and companies) a lot.  I wrote one of my Ad Age columns on this subject in 2009, entitled, "Want Better Job Candidates? Write Better Job Specs. Here is the link: 



Anyway, thanks for the information about Massachusetts.

Comment by Steven G. Davis on September 8, 2011 at 10:10am

Hi Melissa,

Great post, but the issue has major implications not only in "getting" a job description, but for companies like mine that are based in NH, we would have to have an office in MA in order to do business. It would restrict recruiters from sending resumes to prospective clients. I attended the first hearing in June and granted there have been and are by the sounds of it some very unscrupulous staffing firms that are in fact treating temps very poorly, but for the supporters of this bill to paint with such a broad paint brush is just irresponsible. Any reputable agency, will have a job description, meet their payroll requirements and deadlines and moreover will work with clients to be sure the workplace environment is safe. I would encourage you and your network if you have not done so,  spread the word and keep up to date with the MAPS contingent and collectively with much needed support we can defeat this bill that will do nothing but harm the "good, reputable and ethical staffing firms not only in MA but those in the region that do work iwth MA clients. http://http://www.recruitersnation.org/staffing-in-massachusetts-wh...

Comment by Melissa on September 8, 2011 at 10:19am

@Steve - I absolutely agree there is much more to this and unfortunately there are some agencies out there that don't manage to responsible business practices and this act would not solve anything as written.  If this passes, it would majorly alter the way ethical agencies manage their business, to everyone's detriment.

Comment by Marley on September 8, 2011 at 3:01pm
Great post Melissa!  And I agree with your last point about the way it would change the business.  Thank you!


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