The truth behind most job descriptions is that they are lightly edited, kind of plagiarized, branded marketing documents with a lot of words that often don’t say that much. Once hiring managers know they have an opening, they think of the most common label that exists that represents the position they have in mind and put it into a search engine. This results in a bunch of job descriptions from other companies. With all these examples, they begin to skim them and pull out the “best parts,” copying them into a document before massaging them into a more coherent and relevant version to post (or simply doing a “find and replace” for the other company and substituting their own). Oh, and they try to make it sound fun and compelling (you’ll learn, you’ll make a difference, we’re changing the world, and free beer on Fridays!). They do their best to make this job, this work, this grind, sound appealing or at least more appealing than the grind that you know or that other companies might be offering.
It’s almost impossible to encapsulate the experience of a job in a short list of bullets, even if you start from scratch. Because of that, most job descriptions are also too long—both in the list of responsibilities you’ll have and the qualifications you’re supposed to bring. And yet, when we’re searching for a job we tend to believe them. It’s magical thinking. One way to ground yourself in this reality is to stop everything you are doing right now and look at your company’s careers page. Do the job descriptions sound like they represent the work and environment that you experience every day?
Although job descriptions might try to make it seem otherwise, there are few truly original jobs. You might have had this realization while searching and comparing titles. Because the job description as a “tool” is so broken, you have to look beyond, dig deeper, and discover what is actually going on for this position and within this company. To do this, you need to break down a couple job descriptions.