As we all know, IT is a growing field and it’s easy to find a job (at least compared to other fields). We’re overwhelmed by job offers and recruiters emails sent to find the right person for their clients. Unfortunately, many of these offers are written by people without any clue of what they are talking about. Others are written without the will to end up something meaningful and appealing. This is really sad as it wastes people’s time and it’s also counterproductive for the companies. Most of the time the only result these job offers will have is to let potential candidates down, thus avoiding applying for the role.
In this article, I’ll discuss some of the most common job offers errors I’ve found recently on the web and how to fix them.
One of the first issues I’ve found is the lack of details. Many job offers are so vague that is really hard, if not impossible, to establish if the position is of interested to you or if you have the skills the company is searching for. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples, both taken from LinkedIn.
The first job offer I want to analyze has the following description:
Enfield Council have a vacancy for a Web Developer working Monday to Friday 35 hours a week.
To provide technical expertise on the development of the website, intranet and extranet.
To develop new interfaces, systems, databases and web applications.
To develop and implement the design of the website, intranet and extranets.
To assist the web manager in developing the website as a strategic tool for communication, access and ways of working, ensuring they meet government and best practice standards and objectives.
As you can see, it doesn’t have any useful information for a developer. How a potential candidate can evaluate if this is a company to work for? How a developer is supposed to know if he/she has the skills required when no technologies are mentioned?
Another similar offer is reported below:
Senior Front End Developer
My client, a leading Video on Demand company in London, are looking to add a Senior Front End Developer to their world class team.
Key skills include:
- Design and build best of class Front-End experiences
- Own, enhance and maintain our Front-End platform
- Participate in the technical design of your required deliverables, in addition to contributing to the end-to-end solution with your own ideas.
- Be part of an agile team, participating in the planning, estimation and development of user stories
- Collaborate with Front-End developers and back end system developers in building out an end-to-end solution that scales.
- Collaborate with Technical Project Manager and senior management during development to ensure what is delivered meets expectations of client and users.
- Collaborate with QA Engineering in ensuring a robust test approach is defined for your development deliverables
Just like the previous offer, this one is very vague. It has some information about what you can expect to do on a general level, but no mention of the programming languages and frameworks required, and the skills the candidate must possess.
Every job offer must include a description of the technologies used. The candidate must be aware of the programming languages, frameworks, libraries, and tools adopted by the company that he/she will use on a daily basis. In addition, an overview of the full stack employed will give an even better idea. Finally, the advertisement should mention the company environment and the dress code. It might help a person in deciding if this is the right place to work at.
The followings are some sentences that can improve the advertisement:
Experience with test automation frameworks such as Jasmine, Karma, or similar
Experience developing ActionScript for Flash
Programming experience in Java, or Objective C or C++
Some job offers I’ve seen in the wild have the exact opposite issue described in the previous section. They have too many technologies specified without outlining the required and the desired skills. If the advertisement has a list of 20+ programming languages, frameworks, and tools the candidate must be comfortable working with, chances are that even a very good candidate might lack at least one of them. If the candidate is really serious about proposing himself/herself for a new position, he/she might decide to skip the offer altogether. This is something a company should avoid because it might lose a very good candidate.
Let’s take a look at this job offer:
Track record of working on successful fast moving and complex business change and IT projects
Experience of building and managing stakeholder relationships and influencing at all levels
Able to quickly understand complex problems and identify solutions
Excellent presentation and communication skills; you should be comfortable leading, facilitating and presenting
Experience of explaining technical concepts to non-technical colleagues, customers and suppliers / delivery partners
10+ years current experience of Java development in a commercial environment
10+ years current experience major relational database (Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, PostgreSQL)
Current Web development skills – frontend + backend
Building and consuming web services
Good knowledge of XML, XSD, XSL
Mobile App development skills
iOS and Android
5+ years experience working in a UNIX/Linux environment
Good knowledge of IP networks and associated protocols
Experience of continuous integration/build environment is desirable
Self-starter, comfortable working in a fast-paced environment
Extremely high learning agility, intellectually powerful, able to deal with highly complex situations and derive solutions
Engages the team to develop and build effective working processes for development and support.
Able to work in ambiguous situations with multiple stakeholders
Self-motivated and enthusiastic with a proactive approach to work
Great Software engineering skills – not your bog standard developer
Continually looking to challenge norms
Good communicator and team worker; ability to adapt communication styles to target audiences
Commitment to quality and a thorough approach to work. Needs to deliver to succeed.
Engages the team to develop and build effective working processes for development and support
Work both independently and as part of a team.
Proven thought leader with excellent leadership skills, with experience in leading and developing people and in managing and improving their performance to achieve objectives
This job offer seems to search for a high level developer in a very wide range of technologies. In my opinion it is really hard to find someone like the developer described and this could discourage a lot of possible candidates.
A good job offer should have a general but short description of the role at the beginning. Then, it should have two sections with bullet points: one for the essential skills and experiences and the second with the desirable skills and experiences. An example of an advertisement with such division is this one.
Another issue I want to highlight is posting advertisements without a proper formatting of the description. This problem is usually caused by posts automatically published on several websites using a script. However, this is in no way an excuse for the person in charge to be shallow and skipping any checks of the quality of the offer. Having a badly formatted description will often cause a candidate to have a hard time in reading the specifications, which might result in him/her avoiding applying for the role.
The following advertisement is a good example:
Senior . Net Developer
Fixing this problem is easy. All you need to do is to check the quality of the description before publishing the job offer. It’s too bad to lose a good candidate because you’ve been too shallow to check your advertisement.
Before concluding this article, I thought to mention a ridiculous fun job offer I found. A job offer that pushes the issues I described to the extreme. Here is the job offer description:
Senior Web Developer
Role Title: Senior Web Developer
Well… what can I say about it? This text is just ridiculous. It says nothing about the responsibilities of the developer, the languages involved, the number of people involved in the team. Nothing at all.
This is really sad because this offer belongs to an important bank. I can’t think of a reason why it has reached the LinkedIn job board. Is it possible that nobody has reviewed it? And if so, is it possible that the author didn’t realize how useless is this description?
Hire a new recruiter!
In this article I’ve examined some of the most common and important job offers issues I’ve found recently and how to fix them. These kinds of advertisements are really a pain and waste the time of developers and designers searching for a new opportunity.