In my free job search mini course, I give several examples of the limitations of job postings, including how job postings can be wrong altogether. As a recruiter, I have seen job postings that bear little resemblance to the candidate ultimately hired. Apparently, I am not the only recruiter who has had that experience. Upon collecting other recruiter insights for a recent Forbes post on why qualified candidates fail to get hired, Lynda Fraser, a VP at Solomon Page and recruiter for interim experienced human resources roles, shared this real-life example of how job postings can be wrong:
My colleague was given a brief for a senior level position, by a junior generalist who had been tasked with leading the search for her boss. A senior level candidate (VP HR) went through several rounds of interviews. She met all the criteria for the role but ultimately did not get the job. The reason? What the junior generalist had initially communicated was not ultimately what they were looking for. – Lynda Fraser
Many job postings are created by cut-and-paste from other job postings. This means that key elements of the job may be left out or may not be adequately describe or emphasized. Then, this weak copy of a job posting is passed onto a third party, in this case the junior generalist (but it could be an experienced person, just not the direct manager). This third party executes the search, further diluting the true information about the job. Someone unconnected to the job at hand can’t possibly detect how far afield the actual job is from the job posting, so they launch a search, screen candidates and manage those candidates against information that is not 100% accurate.
For the candidate, this means that you might prepare for interviews based on a job posting that is missing key information or includes misleading information. You always have to do your own research and not take the job posting word-for-word.
- Start with the job posting – it does approximate the job, just not 100%;
- Trust but verify — ask questions during the interview process to confirm expectations for the job;
- Key areas to confirm include: how success on the job will be measured; what qualifications the hiring manager is looking for; timing and priorities for the job;
- Aim to speak directly to the hiring manager as early in the hiring process as possible, not just a third party to the search;
- Don’t assume that everything in the job posting is required for the job;
- Don’t assume that everything required for the job is mentioned in the posting!