Editor’s Note: Yesterday, Chanelle Schneider showed us a great example of a job posting that could leave a job seeker more than confused. Today, let’s talk about what to do if the job posting is so poorly written that you can’t tell if this is a good opportunity, what the company culture may be like and, perhaps most important, whether you are qualified to apply.
No doubt… many job and internship postings– on mega job boards, corporate career pages, and niche sites – do suck.
In what may be a hint of either arrogance or ineptitude, some postings tell you almost nothing about the company, culture, role, qualifications or responsibilities. Yet others read like technical manuals, stipulating every conceivable qualification one must have and every possible task the candidate might need to perform. If these descriptions don’t put you to sleep, they can be incredibly intimidating. Who the hell could possibly fill these requirements? The answer, often is – nobody.
Here’s the irony…
Despite their insistence on nearly perfect resumes and cover letters, few HR managers, recruiters or hiring managers know how to craft really good job postings. In far too many cases, this makes it difficult to compare your skills, qualifications and experience against what’s shown in the posting – and leaves you wondering if you’re qualified by the standard as written.
But since it’s not your responsibility to help companies write better job postings, you need to focus on how to better understand the opportunity you’ve identified and the corporate culture in which that opportunity lives. After all, it’s important to remember that even the perfect job for your skills and background could be your worst nightmare because the company culture doesn’t match your personality and temperament, or your immediate supervisor is a narcissistic control freak.
So how do you determine if you’re qualified? Or if you should apply?
In short, find out as much as possible about the company and people you will be working with directly. Discovering the background and experience of staff and managers employed there may give you insights into your own qualifications for the job.
Go Past the Job Posting
Go to the company website, research the goals and mission of the company. Does that mission intrigue you? Read the bios of the management team to get a sense of their experience and backgrounds. Ask yourself if they match your own personal goals, interests and background. Also, look at their competitors and customers… are there high profile companies there that might influence your decision?
Use Online Resources
Use LinkedIn and Glassdoor to find out more about the company and the people that work there, preferably in a similar role you might assume. From LinkedIn, depending on the company, you can learn an awful lot about the company structure, who works there (and doesn’t – watch for high turnover issues!) and who might be your potential new boss. From GlassDoor.com you can find out quite a lot about companies from comments by current and former employees – an invaluable insight into the corporate culture.
Rely on Social Media
Use Twitter and Facebook to get a glimpse into the company’s branding efforts ; not just what the company says about itself and promotes – but what they’re actually doing through social media. Once you find people in the company from your intelligence gathering on LinkedIn, check those people out on their Twitter and Facebook pages. The more insights you gain into the people behind the job posting, the better you’re able to tailor your experience to what the job posting says (or tries to say).
Network Your Way to Knowledge
Through your personal networks, LinkedIn and researching the company on Google you too can get the story behind the posting. Find out who in your own professional and personal networks know someone at the company, or perhaps a customer or vendor of the company. If you’d like to go one step further, ask for informational interviews to get a better sense of the unstated needs of the company and their culture.
It’s also easy to think that job posts that are full of typos aren’t worth your time or energy. This company obviously sucks, right?
Instead, think of job postings this way…
Sometimes, all you need to know is that a company – right now – is hiring in your area of experience. The secret to the game is to find out what is not being said in the job posting. And the person who successfully finds that out… has a better chance to get the job!
Be sure to check out Part 1 of this series here!
About the Author: Joe Gagliano, a founding member of YouTern and our CMO, brings years of start-up management, strategic planning, marketing and market research experience to the team and his blog posts. Joe, who runs our learning center for interns, also brings a passion for start-ups, entrepreneurship and mentorship to our team.