Not all job descriptions are created equal. A common mistake that agency owners and service coordinators make when looking to hire new speech-to-text providers, whether on a full-time or part-time basis, is drafting an inappropriate call for applications. How you present your agency or department in a job description can determine the success of that job search. For savvy applicants, a poorly written job description is like a neon warning sign. If you want to attract the best service providers, then you need to craft the best description possible. The following suggestions address common job posting pitfalls to avoid.
Don’t Set Impossible Standards
We are looking for a full-time service provider to provide real-time speech-to-text services for college students. Master’s degree required (Ph. D. preferred, ideally from an Ivy-League school on the East Coast). Must be able to type the equivalent of 500 words per minute for three hours without taking a break. Ideal candidates will have attractive cheekbones, be fluent in Mandarin, play at least three instruments (not counting drums), and have 25+ years’ experience working with Windows 10. Must be experienced operating office machinery, such as printers (and, by this, we mean, those high-tech 3-D printers used by the engineers at NASA). Special preference will be given to any candidate who can control dragons with his or her mind.
Every employer wants a perfect candidate, but perfect candidates are like unicorns: they don’t exist. Often, in an attempt to raise standards, fill multiple needs, or “have it all,” employers will craft job postings that require too many advanced credentials for the position at hand. While it is not unusual or unprecedented for higher education institutions to require that service providers hold a bachelor’s degree, based on the technical difficulty of the subject matter, it is unrealistic to expect a service provider to hold graduate degrees or special credentials in a given academic or business discipline. Rather, transcribers and captionists must be capable of covering a variety of subjects.
Understand the Vocation First
Now hiring a part-time certified transcriptionist or captioneer to type words for Deaf people. We are a small company with limited resources, so we are looking for an experienced note taker who can step in and fill speech-to-text assignments without much preparation beforehand or editing afterwards. If the note taker is able to help provide transportation for clients, this is also a big plus for us.
Not all coordinators or agency owners are trained speech-to-text providers. However, it is important to make sure that, if you are responsible for crafting a job description, you consult with someone who does understand the field (such as the Association of Transcribers and Speech-to-text Providers) to make sure that your expectations are reasonable for the position.
In the example above, it’s clear that the person who wrote the posting does not understand the technical distinctions between transcribing and notetaking. The author also does not understand some of the ethical standards and liability practices common in the speech-to-text industry (i.e. it’s a bad idea to play chauffeur to your clients). In this case, the job posting is more likely to attract the wrong kind of applicant, someone with questionable decision-making skills and lax standards (probably due to the fact that they don’t prepare adequately!). As a result, quality will suffer, and so will the reputation of the agency or department.
Note: Employers should not use the term “certified” service provider. ATSP strongly recommends using the term “qualified” service provider instead.
Do Not Discriminate
Progressive employer seeks fresh-faced young speech-to-text provider who doesn’t need many naps and isn’t confused by the internet. Because this position requires a great deal of typing, candidates should be healthy (we’re not looking for some weakling who is going to get carpal tunnel syndrome every time we turn around). The ideal candidate will understand cutting-edge communication technology, but will not exhibit a Kanye-West-style attitude or other entitled “millennial” modes of thought. (Let’s put it this way, if you drink kombucha and almond milk, you probably shouldn’t waste your time applying.) Also, this is a professional agency, so female candidates should plan to dress in a non-provocative way so as not to pose unwelcome distractions.
Workplace discrimination is a big deal, but it’s not always as cut and dried as it seems. For example, employers may not even realize that they are excluding certain age groups when they ask for “young” employees, and they may not stop to consider the unfair assumptions in some of their statements (for instance, assuming that millennials are shallow or lazy, or that mature candidates won’t understand technology). That’s why it’s important to read over the job description carefully, making sure that it focuses on the duties and tasks you expect service providers to perform (as opposed to habits or perceived qualities you are looking to exclude).
Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, or other factors is not only illegal, it’s unethical, and when employers forget this or ignore this, the tone of their postings can quickly turn ugly (as the example above illustrates). Ignoring this pitfall will not only put off qualified applicants, but it could run you afoul of Equal Employment laws and ruin your reputation as a safe and inclusive working environment.
Avoid Industry Clichés
Seeking a passionate, hard-working, detail-oriented real-time “communication concierge” with excellent organizational skills, strong communication skills, superb interpersonal skills, and the ability to multitask like a ninja while also thinking outside of the box, dynamically. The ideal applicant should understand our brand intimately, and must be comfortable working flexibly in a relaxed-yet-fast-paced professional environment. If you’ve established a reputation for being an ambitious, results-oriented team player with a fantastic track record in customer service and thought-leadership, capable of driving growth and synergy, then we want to hear from you!
There is a lot of dead and bloated language to pull from in the hiring world—overused expressions and tired chestnuts that don’t really mean anything. When drafting a job description, it’s important to avoid this vague filler, focusing instead on specific expectations. All applicants think of themselves as “hard workers” and “team players,” so listing those abstract qualities is unlikely to turn away the riff-raff. (After all, no one has ever written a cover letter admitting, “I’m not particularly smart and I don’t follow directions very well, but at least I don’t try too hard.”)
You will be able to better gauge an applicant’s intangibles later during the interview process by asking questions about work habits, processes, and projects. When you contact references, you can ask about that employee’s work ethic and occupational history. However, during the job posting, your main goal is inform potential applicants about the measurable credentials required for the position (education, training, experience level, mandatory skills and abilities) and the duties they will be expected to perform if they are hired. That way applicants don’t waste your time or their own.
The examples above may be exaggerated for effect, but the pitfalls are very real. It is not unusual for employers to list unrealistic expectations in their call for applications. Too often, job descriptions are full of meaningless workplace clichés, or (even worse) littered with loaded language that discriminates against certain groups. By following the suggestions above when crafting a call for service providers and other staff, your department or agency will not only present itself in the best light, but it will be more likely to attract the top-tier applicants that every employer craves.
If you have questions about crafting effective job descriptions in the speech-to-text field, please contact [email protected].