Feature: How to Tell the Good, From the Bad & Ugly in Job Postings

Feature: How to Tell the Good, From the Bad & Ugly in Job Postings

Feature: How to Tell the Good, From the Bad & Ugly in Job Postings

Over half of all U.S. workers now say they are either looking for a new job or intend to do so in the next year. They will also undoubtedly make the Internet a central component of their search. But, once they get online, what exactly will they do? There is certainly a wide array of job search tools available on the Web. They include:

  • archiving a resume in an online database for employers to review,
  • reading the advice and information that’s available at career portals,
  • networking with peers in association discussion forums, and
  • reviewing the jobs posted on employer Web-sites and commercial job boards.
  • While all of these activities are popular, the last has truly caught the public fancy. According to an 8+ year survey we at WEDDLE’s have been conducting, the one thing most Internet job seekers do when they go online is look at job postings.

    These announcements, however, are very different from traditional employment ads. They don’t appear in the format of a print classified and aren’t restricted to the tight space constraints imposed by newspapers and journals. As a result, you’ll need a new set of rules for reading and evaluating job postings if you’re to avoid wasting time on mediocre employers and focus your attention and efforts where they can best advance your career. I’ve devised he following five rules to help you do just that

    Rule 1: Look at the level of effort the employer has devoted to writing the job posting. Most commercial sites allow employers to use up to 1,400 words (the equivalent of two typed pages of text) to present their opening. That’s plenty of space to describe both the key characteristics of the position as well as the organization’s mission and culture. If an employer is too lazy or unwilling to take advantage of that space and simply re-posts classified ad copy in cyberspace, you have to ask yourself whether it really values the people who work for it. Informed candidates make smart employment decisions, and keeping you in the dark simply increases the likelihood that you and/or the organization will make a mistake.

    Rule 2: Evaluate what the posting says the position can do for you. Employers that focus exclusively on a position’s “requirements” and “responsibilities”-what the job will do for them-fail to understand that employment is an agreement between two equal parties. Both have to get something out of the deal, or it’s unlikely to last. What should you look for? The best postings will describe a number of key factors:

  • What you will get to do,
  • What you will have a chance to learn,
  • What you will be able to accomplish, and
  • With whom you will get to work.
  • That’s what a job will do for you.

    Rule 3: Check the “candidate friendliness” of the posting. Employers that write helpful postings are implicitly saying something about their culture. If an organization goes the extra distance to help virtual strangers (i.e., online job seekers), it’s likely to go even further to support and advance its employees. How can you spot that kind of employer with a job posting? Look for those that:

  • provide all of the information you need to make an informed decision about the opening,
  • anticipate your questions about the job and provide complete and candid answers before you even ask,
  • offer a question and answer feature with which you can address any issue not covered in the ad, and
  • include detailed instructions-written in English, not techno-babble-about how to send your resume over the Internet when applying for the job.
  • Rule 4: Look carefully at the details. The best job postings are rich in data. They include specific information about the organization, the opening and the way you will be treated should you choose to apply. You, in turn, can use these details to assess your fit with both the position and the organization. What data do you want to see?

  • Salary information in numbers, not empty phrases like “competitive” or “based on experience,”
  • A detailed description of the skills and experience you will need to be successful in the position,
  • Complete information about the organization’s benefits, advancement policies and work arrangements (e.g., is telecommuting or a flexible workday possible), and
  • A statement that indicates how your privacy will be protected should you decide to apply for the position.
  • Rule 5: Return the favor. Don’t become a “graffiti candidate,” one who sprays their resume out to every job posting they read. It takes time and effort for an organization to write a good job posting (which is informative, detailed and helpful to you), and that investment deserves a quality return. So, don’t respond to ads when you’re clearly not qualified for the opening or don’t live in the area where it’s located. All that does is undermine the employer’s satisfaction with the results and diminish its commitment to writing a good job posting for its next open position.

    Thanks for reading,


    A Final Note I hope you’re finding your WEDDLE’s newsletter to be thought-provoking, helpful and informative. If that’s the case, please tell a friend or colleague about it and encourage them to subscribe, as well. I’d be very grateful for your support.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    BrokerHunter.com partnered with Boston Financial Institute to expand the content on its site. The partnership enables BrokerHunter.com to offer 160 individual courses that are delivered entirely online and cover such topics as securities licensing, compliance, financial planning, retirement planning, tax planning, mutual fund banking, and insurance. There are courses that prepare students for NASD examinations and those which lead to industry designations and certifications.

    LatPro.com released the results of a survey conducted with the National Society of Hispanic Professionals. It found that two-out-of-three job seekers landed their new job through either networking (38%) or applying for positions posted on an employment Web-site (26%). What does this mean for you? First, acquire the skills of networking online. It’s not a substitute for networking in the real world, but it can dramatically expand the reach and helpfulness of your contacts. [To read my October 1, 2003 column about online networking, please click here.] Second, spend your time and effort online wisely. There are over 40,000 job boards on the Internet; pick those that focus on your background, skills and industry and ignore the rest.

    TotalJobs.com, a job board located in the United Kingdom, announced the results of a recent survey of job seekers. It found that 90% of the respondents would apply for an opening in the public sector, but that many also had a negative view of such a career move. An alarming 82% considered the public sector bureaucratic; 66% thought it was a Scrooge-like employer when it came to salary and benefits; 65% regarded public sector employees as backward; and 50% didn’t think much of the employment opportunities available in the public sector. Other than that, they saw it as a very attractive place to work.

    U.S. Census Bureau launched a new Web-service that can help with your employment research. Called Local Employment Dynamics, it offers up-to-date statistical data on the job climate in 19 states, enabling you to compare wages and job opportunities from community-to-community. You can find total employment, average monthly earnings, average monthly earnings for new hires, the number of new hires and separations, and a great deal more. The data are available for California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

    Yahoo! HotJobs teamed with Mark Burnett Productions to find contestants for Donald Trump’s next cast on NBC’s “The Apprentice.” Aspiring corporate moguls can apply for the series by clicking on the link on the site’s home page. The winner, of course, gets to work for “le Donald” at one of his companies; those who are “fired” on the show will be escorted away in a taxi bearing … you guessed it, a Yahoo! HotJobs ad, reminding them that there are other opportunities out there and that they can find them on its site.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. You’re an experienced Web programmer looking for a new gig with a corporate IT department. Which of the following sites would put a bug in your search?

  • OneSmartClick.com
  • Developer.net
  • Dice.com
  • TechVibes.com
  • 2. You’ve got a 15-year track record as a security professional and are now ready to compete for a corporate director of security position. Which of the following sites would be a safe bet for some great opportunities?

  • RehiredBadge.com
  • Insecure.org
  • SecurityJobs.net
  • SecurityJobsToday.com
  • 3. You’re a free lance photographer with a strong portfolio in catalog work. Which of the following sites would underexpose you to the projects that are available?

  • StraightShooters.com
  • PicturePerfect.com
  • JustLenses.com
  • Talentx.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2004 Guides and Directories

    The Blue Line: Police Opportunity Monitor


    A WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Award Winner

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – Part time

    Distribution of jobs: National: USA

    Number of jobs: 200

    Salary levels of jobs: $31-50K, $51-75K

    Offer a job agent: No

    Resume database: No

    How long are resumes stored: N/A

    Restrictions on who can post: N/A

    Other services for job seekers: Career and job search information, Links to other sites

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. OneSmartClick.com, a site providing interview questions for employers.

    2. All of them would be appropriate for your search.

    3. All but Talentx.com, which is the only recruitment site.