do they even know what they really want?
Recruiters read job listings all the time, mainly because that’s their job, but also to get insight into what companies say they are looking for in a candidate. Because a good recruiter must have a feel for what’s happening in their industry, we must understand what potential employers really need and want. And a little surprisingly, that isn’t always accurately reflected in the technical job listings.
Lately I’ve noticed that most technical and especially data science job descriptions do not clearly lay out the actual requirements of the position they’re looking to fill. Quite often when I reach out to the hiring manager, they’ll tell me “I know the posting says we’re looking for A and B, but we’re fine with C.” In the cases where I have a pre-existing relationship with the company or hiring manager, often they will contact me to discuss the job listing and what’s missing or overstated.
When the organization finally brings the senior technical people to do the ‘real’ recruiting they just throw the job description away and start fresh. As a recruiter the first thing I do is discuss in detail the technical education and experience required for the position with both the hiring manager and the HR team. Then we work together to create a job description that reflects the detailed requirements for the position.
Having a detailed job description is particularly important, first it eliminates a good portion of the irrelevant applications. Some people will still apply that don’t meet the requirements, but most job seekers don’t want to waste their time applying for a job that isn’t a good fit. Job descriptions are also valuable for those just starting out in a technical field use these to determine what skills the need to develop.
When you consider all the reasons its so important that technical job listings be accurate, why do companies continue to put out ones that don’t really describe their requirements? Is there a reason why they are so confusing, not specifying the needed skills or almost comically overreaching (really, an AI engineer with 10 years deep experience in ML)?
First and probably most common is that they don’t actually know what they want or need. This can happen when the position they are trying to fill is a relatively new role or team for the company. Because of their lack of experience, they try to create a position that will cover everything they can possibly need or think they need. And taking a job with a very wide-open description can be a terrific opportunity for experience and growth.
The second common reason for ‘wide-open’ technical job listings is the company doesn’t fully understand what problems they have or what skills are needed to solve them. Taking a position when the company hasn’t defined or is even sure what their problems are is bound to be a disaster.
Companies who know what problems they are trying to solve, make hiring decisions based on their belief that the candidate can solve that problem. Because many technical problems, especially data science ones, can be solved in a variety of ways it can be hard to hone in on a single set of skills or experiences. If you think you have the skills and abilities to solve the problems, even if you don’t meet every detail of the technical job listings, it may be worth it to submit your resume.
Unclear or poorly defined position descriptions (and ultimately postings) are often written by staff or consultants that don’t have enough technical expertise. This can be especially true when using an existing job description and ‘updating it’ to reflect the latest technology. They can also search the internet to look for similar technical job listings. This can easily lead to copying terms and descriptions that seem to apply to the position they are looking to fill.
A better solution is to include the hiring manager in the process, to make sure the position description is more exact and reflects what is needed to solve the actual problem. Read our recent post on Why Hiring Managers Need to Be Part of the Recruiting Process to learn more.
A professional technical recruiter can also be helpful. Because of their need to be current on what’s going on in their field, they can work with you to create the most accurate job description and posting for technical job listings.
GATE has more than a decade of experience in the technology recruiting field and we will work with you to produce the best job listing and find the right candidates to fill it. Give us a call at 877-534-3269, drop us an email!