Posted by: garispang | June 17, 2009

How to find a job online: Job listings online filled with jargon

With unemployment reaching historic levels, online job search traffic is heating up.  Sites like Monster.com, Dice.com, and HotJobs.com are gaining steam with anywhere from a 20-90% increase in traffic in February.  Somehow CareerBuilder.com managed to dip 3% but SimplyHired.com achieved a 290% increase in traffic, and other sites like Craigslist and LinkedIn.com are also gaining momentum.

Job search sites are gaining traffic and providing a great service to the unemployed and unhappily employed.  Unfortunately, the inability of corporations and recruiters to provide prospective applicants with sensible job postings threatens to render these sites useless.

After just 30 minutes of searching across these sites, it is very apparent that something has gone wrong in the world of HR recruiting.  The simple art of concise and clear descriptions are long gone and the majority of job postings are filled with more crap than the top-rated toilet at TerryLove.com.  Exaggerated requirements and corporate jargon fill these sites like helium in a balloon — and the balloon is about to pop.

Writing a job posting should be a fairly simple process.  After omitting the window dressing, the objective of a job posting is to let prospective applicants know who the company is, what the job is, how the job fits into the company, what they’re looking for, and how to apply.  For the most part, HR recruiters are fully aware of this but are completely incapable of communicating in plain English.

It seems to me that the problem stems from the fact that HR recruiters are flawed by two characteristics that are quite common in their field: An inflated and/or false sense of importance, and a complete lack of understanding of the majority of the jobs they post.

These two characteristics lead to fairly common practices including:

1. Exaggerating requirement for years of experience – Depending on the industry, most job postings drastically over exaggerate the number of years experience you need.  Whether it says you need 10-12 years of experience or 4-6 years of experience, the general rule of thumb is to divide by four.  Recruiters seem to be under the false notion that inflating these figures prevents unqualified candidates from applying.  In reality, this technique discourages realistic applicants from applying and encourages candidates that do meet the experience requirements but are complete morons and willing to accept the pay of someone that has 3 years experience.  Thus resulting in a completely dysfunctional organization (75% of the Fortune 500, bleeding money everyday).

2. Exaggerating the level of education required – Recruiters are still under the impression that there are millions of PhD’s out there just waiting for jobs that pay $40k.  If they ask for an MBA, a Bachelor’s degree with a 2.0 GPA will suffice.  If they’re asking for a college degree, Argosy counts too.  If they aren’t asking for a college degree, you’re probably reading a legitimate job posting.

3. Exaggerating the professional certifications required – If the job asks for Microsoft Certifications, don’t feel ruled out for the job.  Go home, open up Excel.  Play with it for 10 minutes and you’ve fulfilled their actual requirement.

4. Exaggerating the quality of the work experience required Prime example of this available here (original link inactive, archived in Google Doc).  The job posting asks for a minimum of 3 years of experience but follows it up by preferring someone with C-Level leadership experience.  In essence, this recruiter is looking for a 24 year old that ran his own lemonade stand.  Making him both “proven” and “c-level” material.

4. Filling the entire job posting with corporate and industry acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon –  By filling the job posting with nonsensical jargon, a recruiter further inflates their false sense of importance and also avoids the issue that they know absolutely nothing about the job.  The applicant is left wondering whether they just applied for a job responsible for fixing Boeing 747s or installing Kimberly-Clark toilet paper dispensers.  Pretty much a toss up.

5. Elaborating on nothing – Perfect example here (original post inactive, archived in Google Doc).  This posting was off of CareerBuilder.com.  Recruiters love to take what could be 1-2 bullet points and expand them out to 10-20 depending on the job.  Here’s a better description of the job posting linked:
– You will test applications in all phases and are responsible for documentation. 
Done.  Pretty simple and the applicant isn’t left scratching their head.

6. Position Titles – Perhaps not the fault of HR Recruiters, the trend of giving everyone a title of Vice President, Director, or Supervisor is spiraling out of control.  These titles have become so watered down they literally have no meaning.  In an attempt to clarify the meaninglessness of position titles, some companies include a prefix like Jr., Sr., or Assistant.  Even worse, some companies add a 1,2,3,4 and 5 after the position title as if this provides external applicants with additional information about the position.  Note to organizations: You can’t pour crap in a bowl of urine and hope to clear things up.  Extra Credit: Go to LinkedIn.com and search “Vice President”, “Director”, “Supervisor”.  I’m fairly certain if you combine those terms, you’ll end up with results for approximately 1/2 of the LinkedIn users.

It’s scary to imagine what job postings might look like in 10 years if this trend continues.  If anyone is interested in building a Google Translate  with a “Recruiter to English” option, I can serve as your Subject Matter Expert.

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