Monday, September 28, 2009

Do More than Read Job Titles! Look for clues..

I was having a conversation recently with a job seeker who had concluded that there were just no jobs out there for her. It was a little surprising since she is actually in a field that has quite a few opportunities, despite the bad economy.

After a few minutes, I realized that she was so fixated on the last job title she held, she really wasn't looking for broader possibilities and reading job descriptions carefully enough. In fact, she was actually discarding possible job opportunities because the job title in the job description was not familiar to her.

I think that many job seekers might actually be in the same boat as my friend.

Many people get attached to their job titles and their current job descriptions, they may actually be overlooking the actual day-to-day assignments involved in a particular job - especially if the job description has evolved over time.

Online job boards today, do a pretty incredible job of making it easy for people to find job opportunities just by using keywords. Employers used to be able to search for resumes using keywords and now every job board gives similar capabilities to job seekers.

However, job seekers should keep in mind though that although keywords can help us really narrow the scope quickly, reading the job descriptions carefully is still a good idea. As we read the job description, think about the skills, behaviors and experiences that are transferable from one industry to the next and one job to the next.

Keep in mind that favorite anecdote that I share all the time (don't remember where I read it, but really think it is true) - Roughly 80% of the people who get hired only have about 60% of what the job description listed.

What does that mean for the job seeker?

It means that although the job description is a great guide for what you will ultimately do on the job, it is only a partial guide to what the employer might be willing to hire right now.

So, as you read job descriptions, try to read and think between the lines. Think about the "success behaviors" behind the job titles and the job descriptions. Plan to showcase these in your resume and demonstrate them in the interview. Do not sabotage your own job search strategy and limit your options by stopping at the job title in the job description.

Want to tell your career or job search story? Come over to BullsEyeCareerBlogs and add your comments!


Graham said...

Thougthful article
As an ex-HR Manager I can remember a number of occasions where we changed the job description as a result of the interview process or a negotiation with an extremely good candidate.
Try and connect with the main essence and purpose of the job.
If they like you other things might be open to discussion anyway.

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Sherley said...

I agree with this, I found in my 20's when I was job hunting I was so fixated with just the job title that match my experience. It took me to stop working for a year take a risk, find a mentor to help me look beyond that.

Great read and I think I will share this article with my visitors.

Marcia Robinson said...

Hi Sherley,

You are right - sometimes it takes being out of the workforce for a while to learn some new lessons and not be so "functionally fixed".

Tried your site, but wouldn't launch.

Marcia Robinson said...


Great point! Many people in the anxiety of the job search really forget that job descriptions get rewritten all the time!