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Poorly written job descriptions -- how do you approach a job requirement description.

 
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Hello,

In a workshop my husband recently attended at his workplace, there was a discussion on why there is not much diversity at their workplace ( specifically why there are fewer female than male employees at their organization ) and we were discussing about it this evening.

One of the points the speaker made was that the job requirements' descriptions are not well written. His point was that when females read the job description, they consider every skill mentioned as a must-have skill whereas men tend to be a lot more permissive about it. Most men would still apply for the job if they didn't have say 2 out of 5 skills mentioned in the job description but most females wouldn't. When I thought about it for myself ( I'm a female ), I realized this is exactly what I do. In fact I do not even shortlist a job if I think I don't have one of the mentioned skills. So he recommended that the job posters classify required skills into must have skills and the desirable skills.

One of the other suggestions was that the job posters do not mention words like 'strong' and 'expert' in the job description ( as in 'expert in multi-threading' etc ) cause females tend to have higher standards for the meaning of those words. And it is pointless also because different people have different meanings for those words. He mentioned organizations should assess the expertise of the job seeker during the interview rather than writing words like 'strong knowledge of ....' in the job descriptions.

I don't know how much of what he said is right about females or males but I couldn't agree more with his points. I find such job descriptions sort of vague in nature.

But job descriptions continue to be poorly written. At least that is what I have seen. It's a rare thing to find a well written job requirement.

What is your recommendation for job seekers. How do you think we should read and interpret a job requirement.

Do you think an employer who does not have time to write a well written job requirement will have the time to read the technical specification documents' or POCs written by the developer, should they join such an organization.

Thanks,
Chan.

[Sorry, if that sounded more like a rant.]
 
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Chan,

What you are seeing is a manifestation of what happens generally

a) Men take to more risks at work than women in the work place
Men are more likely than women to take a riskier project, or go for a promotion that is out of their reach. I guess, when they are job hunting, men would be more likely to apply for that job they are not fully qualified for

b) Women, when they do take risks, are perceived more negatively than men
When men take risk, they are seen as go-getters. When women take risk, they are seen as rocking the boat. As a result, a man has more support from their friends and family to go for a riskier job, whereas a woman is more likely to not apply at all.

IMO, a job requirement is a list of things that the employer wants. However, that doesn't mean that it's a list of things that they "need". Many times, the manager may not be technical themselves, and you might know what they need better than they do. You can't expect them to be perfect.

Recently, I looked at the job requirement for a Dev Ops engineer at my job, and some of the requirements didn't make sense. I asked the manager, and she said "Oh they guy we are trying to replace has these qualifications, so I put these things in there". She wanted someone exactly like the guy who had left, so she took his resume and turned it into a job requirement.

Besides tech spec docs are not going to be perfect either, too! If you go to jobs and tell them, "I'm not able to work unless you give me perfectly written technical specifications", you are never going to get a job. No one is going to hire you. I have worked in this industry for 20 years, and I have not once relied on a tech spec. I have relied on my own ability to talk with the other person and understand their needs. I want to understand why I am doing something. Why is this person asking me to do this? Does he really need it, or does he think he needs it? How does my task contribute to the success of the whole project? Can the same thing be done better? Dealing with ambiguity is a big part of our jobs, and that applies to to job descriptions too. Really, if we had the ability to write tech specs unambiguously and perfectly, then we wouldn't need programmers. Someone can write a program that generates code from tech specs.

A big part of your job is to deal with ambiguity that is a natural part of any human endeavor. Typing out code is a much smaller part of your job.
 
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I've never been qualified on paper for any job I've ever had, unless that job involved a shovel.
 
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Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:some of the requirements didn't make sense. I asked the manager, and she said "Oh they guy we are trying to replace has these qualifications, so I put these things in there". She wanted someone exactly like the guy who had left, so she took his resume and turned it into a job requirement.



This is the sign of an inexperienced or poor manager.

Every organization has people fulfilling unique combinations of roles. It becomes more unique and complicated the longer "Bob" was at the org. To try and get another "Bob" is crazy - it's exceptionally unlikely that you're going to find another person exactly like "Bob" right now; and the manager probably doesn't realize that her requirements would likely exclude the younger "Bob" when he started doing that role!

A job requisition to me is as illustrative as a resume; it gives you an idea whether the hiring manager has some clear goals and ideas for what they want and recognize that people are going to grow into the role, or whether they are ticking boxes and/or hoping for a magic unicorn (who only poops a specific shade of glitter) to fall into their lap.

Cheers!

Luke
 
Chan Ag
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Jayesh, you have listed some really great observations. I can relate to some of them. They answer a lot of other indirect questions too that I have had a few times. I could write more about them here, but I must not.

What you have said about dealing with ambiguity too makes perfect sense to me. It must be a part of growing up. Weird. I didn't realize this simple thing and was kind of bugged by the existence of a simple natural phenomenon around me.

At times, though, you wish that there were fewer ambiguities in the world. :-)

I will work on things. Thank you.

Chan.









 
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Jayesh A Lalwani says

A big part of your job is to deal with ambiguity that is a natural part of any human endeavour. Typing out code is a much smaller part of your job.



Thank You. I think this is the most useful thing one can learn in an entire career in IT. These words would always be useful to me.
 
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