Thursday, March 5, 2015

How I read a job description

Job descriptions are full of nuance. I recently read a book by the founders of Zillow and in the book they explained the true meaning of house descriptions. Words like cute, opportunity, and modern are actually negative words in real-estate. Job descriptions are the same. Certain words are used to mask the negative aspects of a job. The keywords vary by industry, so be aware of what tasks you dislike and watch out for descriptions that hint at them.

The first thing I read in a job description is the section that describes the day-to-day responsibilities. This section is usually labeled 'duties' and is the last section of a job description. This is where the true needs of the employer show. In the job requirements it usually says PhD preferred, but in the day-to-day section it describes a mindless, repetitive task, that just needs to be learned once and repeated for 20 years.

The day-to-day responsibilities also let me know which skills are actually needed. The requirements might say 'people person' and the day-to-day task is actually just saying 'hello' to people as they pass the guard desk. In reality I don't need a degree in psychology, I just need to be good at cheerfully greeting people. If the day-to-day tasks fit my expertise and career plan then I apply.

-Learn to read what is not written