How to Tell the Good, From the Bad & Ugly in Job Postings
Published: Sep 25, 2008
These announcements, however, are very different from traditional employment ads. They don’t appear in the format of a print classified and aren’t restricted to the tight space constraints imposed by newspapers and journals. As a result, you’ll need a new set of rules for reading and evaluating job postings if you’re to avoid wasting time on mediocre employers and focus your attention and efforts where they can best advance your career. I’ve devised he following five rules to help you do just that
Rule 1: Look at the level of effort the employer has devoted to writing the job posting. Most commercial sites allow employers to use up to 1,400 words (the equivalent of two typed pages of text) to present their opening. That’s plenty of space to describe both the key characteristics of the position as well as the organization’s mission and culture. If an employer is too lazy or unwilling to take advantage of that space and simply re-posts classified ad copy in cyberspace, you have to ask yourself whether it really values the people who work for it. Informed candidates make smart employment decisions, and keeping you in the dark simply increases the likelihood that you and/or the organization will make a mistake.
Rule 2: Evaluate what the posting says the position can do for you. Employers that focus exclusively on a position’s “requirements” and “responsibilities”—what the job will do for them—fail to understand that employment is an agreement between two equal parties. Both have to get something out of the deal, or it’s unlikely to last. What should you look for? The best postings will describe a number of key factors:
Rule 4: Look carefully at the details. The best job postings are rich in data. They include specific information about the organization, the opening and the way you will be treated should you choose to apply. You, in turn, can use these details to assess your fit with both the position and the organization. What data do you want to see?
Rule 5: Return the favor. Don’t become a “graffiti candidate,” one who sprays their resume out to every job posting they read. It takes time and effort for an organization to write a good job posting (which is informative, detailed and helpful to you), and that investment deserves a quality return. So, don’t respond to ads when you’re clearly not qualified for the opening or don’t live in the area where it’s located. All that does is undermine the employer’s satisfaction with the results and diminish its commitment to writing a good job posting for its next open position.