Will we ever demand pure honesty and transparency from job descriptions?

Yes, you idiot. That’s the first thing that my brain tells me.

But there’s something there that’s not quite in line with my brain and I’m trying to figure out why.

I’m doing a little bit of research in the recruiting area, mainly trying to figure out the general structure of the websites and how the job descriptions are structured. First observation: every job description feels like an infomercial, to the point where I get the same feelings I have when I accidentally switch onto one of the selling channels. Being around ads so much, the way 99% of the job descriptions are worded makes me feel like I am reading them from a distance, almost the same way I would watch a pamphlet.

And I get it, recruiters want to hype up their proposals, companies want to make their workplace seem like heaven

but

there seems to be a levelling effect of the perceived coolness. If every place is a great pick, no place is a great pick, but merely one of many. A lot of the companies hyped themselves right into anonymity.

And I wonder, with the current demands that we have from companies: to be transparent, to support a cause, to be more than four walls and a payslip, will we ever be willing to accept how a real job description would sound like?

Consider two descriptions for the same job:

Our agency is home to creative problem solvers. Those who overcome any obstacle to successfully put consumer-first ideas, products and technologies into market. People who wear their talent lightly. Willing to be part of a close community that pushes them to be better. Because our goal is to bring people and brands closer together. Closer insights, closer connections and closer collaboration breed better, more effective work. It’s this dedication to getting closer that drives us to go further. Finally, we guarantee that you will leave changed. Because we help our people achieve their goals. So come here to experience. To experiment. To make mistakes. To challenge your own limits.

versus

You will make sure the Senior Designers can deal with the high priority tasks by assisting them in doing the more time-consuming tasks.

You will deal with the Marketing department’s request for internal creative.

Once the first round of creative work is delivered to the client, you will take care of the several rounds of feedback that follow it to ensure the project gets signed off.

I know my second job description isn’t really Shakespeare, but it’s the reality of what some of the Junior work a company might require.

Therefore my questions are:

Is it beneficial to oversell your company for recruiting purposes but risk disappointing your new employee once the honeymoon period is over?

Do we want, even for a little bit, to be sold an ideal story when applying for a job? Do we actually want to know what the day to day duties are or are we happy with the conceptual description of a job?

If everyone would start posting “honest” job descriptions, after those honest descriptions become the norm, is there enough awareness among applicants to filter out the “click-bait” job descriptions?

I have my own ideas about this, but f*ck if I know an answer that would apply to everyone.

(very short answer for the questions above: A company wants the best employees, therefore hyping the company up makes sense to a certain degree. Not fair for the employee, but I think subconsciously there is an awareness of how hyped some of the jobs are. I think a lot of us are aware of being sold a story but the fancy descriptions become a very good mouse trap. If everyone would start posting honest job descriptions, just by habituation the fancy ones would stand out more, reversing the hyping to anonymity syndrome described in the first part of the post. Only when the hyped up job descriptions get the reputation of a selling channel pitch, almost becoming a meme, will it trigger our bullshit meter to such a degree that there’s no chance that we will take it serious)

Will the future of After Effects in social media be reserved only for high-end production?

With a trend for media software to transition to browser-based self-served solutions, I wonder where After Effects is going to be in the next 10 to 15 years.

There’s no question in my mind that if you’re not doing crazy compositing or 3D modelling, at the moment After Effects is the way to go for motion graphics. Even with their steep pricing, designers who manage to get some work view it as an investment and the others just crack the software. (side note: There’s a direct correlation between how far people go to crack a piece of software and how unique it is as a solution.)

It feels like Adobe is so good that there’s no space for it. I am looking at the DaVinci Resolve editing capabilities, but for the moment I rarely see it as the main editing tool in any agency.

but

Unless you are working in high-end commercials, your life revolves around using this-and-that plug-ins (Mr. Horse anyone?), animating shapes, doing funky things with text and glitching things here and there.

If After Effects would be a person, it would barely need to lift a finger to do all of the above. Very few of us use After Effects at its maximum capability.

If we look at the current motion graphics trends, we can spot a pattern of bold, capitalized text, simple animation, bold colors, a lot of negative space, minimalist, pattern-based design.

Simply said, there can be an argument made that After Effects is too powerful for a lot of the social media content right now. Also, it has quite a steep learning curve and if you’re a small company looking to pump out content like there’s no tomorrow, doing very fancy stuff with it is counterintuitive for time saving purposes. For those who already learned After Effects, there’s no reason to change. But for those who need to learn it to make social media content? Hmm…

Now, that been said, I’m aware not everyone has this design style. But from what I’ve seen, there are enough companies to justify the existence of a self-serve product for this.

I can see it as something that a marketing executive or a product manager can drag and drop and reuse assets. Something that would shave off a small bit of the functionality of After Effects and sprinkle some drag and drop functionality and simplicity over it. (how many of After Effects’ effects do you REALLY use?)

And designers will scream that it will killing the market, commoditize good design, sacrifice the ideas and originality. And to a certain extend it’s true. Speed and accessibility will kill some of the potential. But as much as I would love to make the perfect piece of content, it’s good to throw some cold water on my face and realize that for some, hitting 70% of the original vision but delivering on time is good enough, because they need to have some gas left in the tank for the long game that social media is.

Maybe it’s something that After Effects makes as a product, or something that Canva adds as it branches out to conquer the browser-based content creation.

BIG BIG NOTE: I FUCKED UP. I FORGOT ABOUT ADOBE SPARK.

This pretty much eliminates the second part of my argument. However, I wonder why we don’t see it in the requirements section of jobs descriptions.

https://spark.adobe.com/

Shower thoughts:

Imagine if 15+ years from now, if we’re still doing motion by hand and it doesn’t become some self-automated process, the designer community will look at people who use After Effects the same way we look at those who use Nuke now.

If After Effects’ relevance might be in danger for social media, I don’t think Photoshop is going anywhere.

I wonder how many of the designers will end up becoming asset creators. I’ve already seen it in small teams of illustrators that offer high-quality assets for an annual subscription.

Actively seeking opportunities to zone out leads to better ideas.

My hypothesis for this episode of brain farts is that actively seeking boredom can lead to a zoning effect where ideas have time to gestate and lead to more well-thought ideas.

If generating ideas is viewed as a connection of experiences, opinions and opportunities, not creating an environment where these concepts have time to permutate might return suboptimal ideas.

I mentioned boredom, and I will mention the zoning out effect, so I think it’s worth point out the difference between them early on.

I view boredom as an active frustration in someone’s lack or enjoyment of an activity. (in my experience, a weird tension in my body) My experience of zoning lacks quite a lot of physical presence, I do not have any sort of awareness in my body towards the present moment.

With that being said, I think that even before we zone out, we experience a feeling of mild boredom. Our reluctance to lean into the boredom doesn’t enable us to zone out.

I seem to catch myself running away from it like crazy. Where? To more information.

In addition to “100% productivity hustle mode 24/7” being very popular right now, the content we consume mutated into the perfect trap.

Opening the gates to content creators means that what we consume is not only at scale, but personalised. (more niched content creators, more chances that whatever you are searching for fits exactly your interests and delivery style)

Ten to fifteen years ago, if there wasn’t something on TV, if I wasn’t in the mood to read or no one wanted to play outside there would be quite a lot of moments where I would just stare at the wall, fidgeting with something.

Now, the only time I get those Dr. House moments are in the shower or when I am doing the dishes. I tried to find patterns in the contexts of these “aha” moments:

Shower ideas = ideas that mutated in an environment where there is very little external output, where someone’s immediate attention is occupied by some physical activity that has repetitive steps and a clear outcome. (same applies to washing dishes, running, mowing the lawn, taking a walk – your brain knows what the outcome is so it lets the body do it’s thing)

Now, it gets even a little bit more crazy for Type A individuals, as it’s really easy to maximize all those repetitive moments with information.

The fear of missing out on content + the desire to maximize productivity can lead to an overload of informational input but restricts the actual ideation phase (the shower environment).

What’s even worse, information becomes less valuable: because it is not used immediately or mixed together with the other concepts, it gets discarded. (reading a lot of non-fictional books one after the other without a gestation phase makes the overall impact of all the books very small)

Solution? Put a valve on information. Restrict informational input while keeping a balance between input vs output. Even better, if those two are balanced, our selection process for information will be even more clear as we will know better “when we see it” instead of mindlessly throwing information at out brain and see what sticks. A second step involves clearly separating the two phases. I will try as much as I can to clearly carve that time to zone out.

The problem that I have yet to solve is that some randomness of input needs to happen, as it’s very hard to predict what will stick and you want to have those cross-disciplinary concepts come across. Maybe this is where a unrelated hobby helps?

Flappy Bird vs. Ping-pong

Remember when everyone was obsessed with this game for about five seconds? Outside of the usual game tactics (people trying to one up each others’ high-scores), the physics of the game was insanely simple.

I wondered why it was so catchy.

We’ve been hooked to like this motion for a while now, it just transferred to a screen.

Marty Neumeier : The Brand Gap (book highlights)

Note: The following are my personal highlights. If you like them, please consider buying the book.

  • A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It’s a GUT FEELING because we’re all emotional, intuitive beings, despite our best efforts to be rational. It’s a PERSON’S gut feeling, because in the end the brand is defined by individuals, not by companies, markets, or the so-called general public. Each person creates his or her own version of it. While companies can’t control this process, they can influence it by communicating the qualities that make this product different than that product. When enough individuals arrive at the same gut feeling, a company can be said to have a brand. In other words, a brand is not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY say it is. A brand is a kind of Platonic ideal—a concept shared by society to identify a specific class of things.
  • Brand management is the management of differences, not as they exist on data sheets, but as they exist in the minds of people.
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Blair Enns : A Win Without Pitching Manifesto (book highlights)

Note: The following are my personal highlights. If you like them, please consider buying the book.

  • “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain
  • What the world needs, what the better clients are willing to pay for, and what our people want to develop and deliver, is deep expertise. Expertise is the only valid basis for differentiating ourselves from the competition. Not personality. Not process. Not price. It is expertise and expertise alone that will set us apart in a meaningful way and allow us to deal with our clients and prospects from a position of power.
Continue reading “Blair Enns : A Win Without Pitching Manifesto (book highlights)”