Why the Kitchen Sink Has No Place in Your Job Postings

by Nina Post

When you start hiring for your small company, it's tempting to assume the new staff members will constantly have to wear different hats. After all, this is what the founders do early on.

I think this mindset is why you see a lot of job postings that include the following:

Writing email and web copy
Writing blog posts
Writing white papers
Setting up conversion tracking and sales funnels
Planning live events
Social media
Managing customer relationships
Creating webinars
Project management
Creating videos
Managing PPC advertising

The problem with a posting like this

A job posting like this tells me that (a) this company is disorganized and unfocused, and doesn't even know what its goals are, and (b) doesn't have a content strategy and doesn't know it needs one.

The responsibilities this job posting is asking for cover a large number of full-time jobs. It's not effective to do it this way, and it's not strategic.

The problem is that it's especially hard to scale the jack-of-all-trades skill set as your company grows, and there's only so much time. Whoever wrote this job posting is asking for someone who's barely passable in a lot of areas, and who won't be able to excel in any of them.

On the job seeker side, some people try to cover every possible area of marketing in their CV. They're aggressively generalist, covering B2B and B2C, every stage in the inbound methodology and the buyer's journey, and a lot more on top of that. I don't even know where they get this mentality, because big companies—where most people have worked—always err toward the more specific, limited job description.

I saw a CV like this that included brand building as one of their 50 skills, which is particularly funny, considering the person's positioning is antithetical to good branding.

A good brand is narrow and focused. A good brand specializes.

Someone who presents herself as a generalist in a way that's similar to this job posting is casting their net as wide as possible, and they won't be a good hire.

Can they stop time?

A posting like this never mentions how much of each responsibility the person needs to handle. Whoever takes this job can't enter into a bubble where time stops, and can't go through a wormhole where they get this stuff done in the past.

It's more like the founders heard they should be doing these things, and without even thinking about it, they decided to put every task pertaining to it into a single posting. "Oh yeah, white papers, add that. Webinars too. And we need someone to manage all of our projects and workflows. But they've gotta know CSS and handle our PR. And they should be an awesome writer, too. And, like, a conversion expert!"

Here's the thing. One person will be filling this role.

One person.

Here are just a few examples of specializations that this posting includes:

Someone who acts as your project manager really shouldn't be doing anything but managing your projects.

If you need a lot of HTML and CSS work done on an ongoing basis, even if that person is a good writer, they are only one person. It's hilarious to think they'll also be writing all of the blog and email copy, creating sales funnels and landing pages, managing projects, planning live events... (see how it's starting to sound ridiculous now?).

And someone who knows conversion typically focuses entirely on conversion, because it's difficult and they really have to know their stuff. Even if they're good at some other things, they're only one person. You can find someone who is also decent at conversion, and may even be better than a specialist, but to load them up with totally unrelated things like PR, live events, blog posts, white papers, CSS, SEO, etc, is lunacy.

Managing customer relationships? That's everyone's job, even if you have roles for that. It should be inherent to your company's culture to delight customers, regardless of department. But to put that on one person who's also expected to do everything else?

I could go on, but the point is that it just can't hold. You won't get good quality. And this job posting isn't an extreme or atypical example.

If you really need someone to handle a ton of different things, consider doing the following:

  • Think about your strategy and goals as a company, and see if you can reduce the number of tasks you're asking someone to do. Think about your priorities, and where you want to focus your time and resources, which are limited.
  • The posting should also give an applicant some sense of what the reporting structure is. Ask yourself, if our company grows, what would this person be focusing on? If our company grows, who would this person be reporting to?
  • Don't try to hire someone to do all those things forever. Write up the role with 2-3 things you expect them to be doing longer term, and say, in the short run, we expect this role to fill in some other areas, but in the long run, it will focus on a short list of things.
  • It's fine to say, we're a young company and we need some help with (for instance) Google Analytics and social and some other stuff. But then you can mention, six months out we expect that you'd be building your team and hiring others to take over those functions.
  • Mention how much of each responsibility that person is expected to handle.

Saying that someone's going to have 44 responsibilities indefinitely is totally inefficient. You should hire smart, flexible people who understand that in a startup or a small growth company, they may have to help out with tasks that are tangential to their main responsibilities.

But if you try to overload people with a hundred, often disparate responsibilities on an ongoing basis, you'll never be able to move the needle in the areas that really matter.

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