Last week I was talking about job applications and not holding yourself back by saying “no” pre-emptively. I started to dive into job descriptions before realizing they deserved their own post. Which is what I’m talking about today.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it: Job descriptions are often a complete work of fiction.
Sometimes, this is because the job description is years out of date – written before the previous employee in that role (or the one before that) had even started. The original responsibilities morphed and changed with the needs of the moment and the skills of the people, but the job description remained unchanged.
Sometimes the job description started out realistically but then HR (or the “AI”-driven tool HR is using) decides to add other requirements to better match similar job descriptions out of standardized databases – which are themselves nothing more than amalgams of job descriptions sourced across time and distance. It’s job-description-by-committee, with no bearing on reality.
Sometimes HR offers a single open req (when 3 are needed) so the manager tries to create a wish-list of requirements and responsibilities, in the hope that someone will come along with most (or at least many) of the boxes checked. It’s a pipe dream, but a frustratingly common one.
Regardless of the reason, the truth remains that many of the job descriptions out there are nothing more than a messy collection of vague hopes, wishful thinking, and out-of-date ideas.
Over three decades an nearly 20 jobs, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve shown up for an interview only to discover that the work bore NO resemblance to the requirements on paper. What I find more astonishing is that sometimes the manager knew this was the case, but often they didn’t.
The lesson in all of this goes back to the core message of the last post: In your job hunt, your job is to apply. Don’t second guess whether you have “enough” of the skills, because – as I’ve just explained – the work their need done may be very different.
Do you like the company because of it’s culture, creation, community, calling, or some other aspect? Are you intrigued enough to want to find out more?
That’s all it takes. Apply.