Job descriptions can suck too

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Feb 13

Hacking Job Descriptions

Job skills on a resume that match job skills on a job description is a job candidate’s greatest win. Why? Because the greater the number of job skills that match, the better the chance the resume-reading machines and the people reading resumes will conclude you have the job skills to do the job. That’s a big win.

There is a big assumption in there, though. Do you see it? The assumption is the job description accurately portrays the job skills needed to do the work.

This is where thousands of Cubicle Warriors gnash their teeth and throw rocks at their computer screens. Why? Because a lot of job descriptions just suck.

Take, for example, the job description that popped up in my email today. Since I have a project manager resume out there for my consulting work, these are the job skills this recruiter thought I was matched up enough to apply for:

  • Administration – Business Analysis – Gather and document requirements
  • and 10+ Yrs. Administration – Project Management. Management of medium projects
  • and 10+ Yrs. Procurement planning
  • and 6+ Yrs. Information Technology – Architecture
  • and 10+ Yrs. Software Development Life Cycle

For clarity, I put in the bullet points instead of spaces between the needs.

Let’s just ignore the fact that this recruiter, looking at my resume — with my job skills highlighted in a single column on the left side on the very first page, ignored the lack of any BA work, any technology architecture work, and 10+ years of Software Development Life Cycle work. But that’s another post…

Instead, let’s see what the job description is saying here. It says that you have to have had 10-years of procurement planning, whatever that is. There aren’t a lot of procurement people that suddenly decide after 10-years that project management is a good way to go. Especially after getting experience doing…

BA work is a skill set unto itself and, while a lot of BA’s become project managers, it’s a different skill set. You also need a couple of years experience doing BA work — presumably in a procurement or SDLC environment — to hone the skills enough to start doing project management work.

And then you need ten more years of project management work in medium systems — what’s medium? Work with me here…if you were a project manager for ten years and you had not progressed passed implementing medium systems, do you think project management is the job for you? Probably not.

If you jumped right in and did SDLC your entire project management career, you might hit the experience needed in the job description.

And, oh-by-the-way, you also need to be an IT Architect for 6+ years. A natural career path, no doubt.

But add it up: 10-years procurement + 2-years BA + 10-years project management and SDLC work + 6-years of IT Architecture work = 28-years of experience to meet the job description requirements.

For all of that, I can guarantee you they won’t pay for what that experience is worth. Much less find someone with that kind of experience in the first place.

It shows that whoever put the job description together hasn’t really thought through what the job is really about.

And then blame the market for not having enough skilled workers.