Understanding Job Descriptions

Understanding Job Posting DescriptionsSearching for jobs can be simply exhausting. Lengthy requirements, intimidating lists, and phrases that leave you confused or uncertain. This is all normal, especially after your thirty-something application. In fact, a lot of people glance over a job description without fully understanding what it entails.

Some descriptions can be misleading when you first read them, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. There’s nothing more frustrating than thinking you’re being hired for managing client relationships and promoting new product offers and then find yourself sitting at a desk making cold calls from nine to five every day. You feel tricked, cheated, and angry.

To avoid all this irritation, we want to help you learn how to read job descriptions so you don’t find yourself in a bad situation.

Key Questions Used to Understand Job Descriptions

Am I working solo or on a team?

  • Most job descriptions will tell you if you're working in a team or by yourself.  
  • Think: Which do I prefer? Can I go solo or do I prefer working with others?

Do I need any specific skills?

  • Most of the time, companies require you to simply be able to jump in and learn the technical skills.
  • However, if a particular skill is required, don't lie if you don't have it. Obviously, they will eventually figure it out.

Any Jargon or technical terms?

  • Companies tend to use big terms to mask the true responsibility a job holds.
  • If you're unsure of a word, take some time to Google it or ask for clarification.
  • Regardless, it's always a good idea to do a little research to get an idea of the work you'll be doing.

Is this job labor intensive?

  • See how much physical work will be needed each day and if you're ready for that type of work or not.

Does it involve a customer service or administrative role?

  • Is the job dealing with customers all day in terms of service, support, or problem management?
  • Does the job have you working in the back office all day doing operations work like data entry?
  • These are great jobs to get your foot in the door, as long as you fully understand what you're getting into.

Do I match at least 75% of the requirements?

  • Don't get too hung up on meeting every single requirement.
  • Go ahead and apply for the job if you meet at least 75% of the requirements.
  • Recruiters will often make exceptions for a candidate that is a good overall fit for the company and position.

Sales Job Descriptions

Understanding Sales Job DescriptionsFor many of us, we are oh-so-familiar with entry-level jobs that have sales incorporated in the job description. At first, it seems so promising: “No experience needed!” is often what grabs our attention and getting a phone call the day after applying always feels fantastic.

The misleading part about sales jobs is that the employer tends to leave out the amount of time spent on sales and what type of sales you will be doing. Phrases like “managing new clients” or “collecting prospective clients” sometimes means finding new customers to buy the product your selling—in other words, door-to-door sales or cold calling all day long.

Some people have a knack for sales while others despise it. So, if you are unsure about sales, be certain to examine the job description, do the research, and ask the right questions to see what type of sales is involved.

At one time or another, we all become victims of ambiguous job descriptions while caught up in the job hunt. Next time you come across one, dedicate a few more minutes in order to understand what exactly the job is asking of you.

This article was originally written for RecentGrad.com.

About the Author: Recent Grad

RecentGrad is a website designed and operated by recent college graduates that gives a voice to college graduates and undergraduates frustrated by the entry level job search. RecentGrad provides a unique social network and online community for an emerging generation of young professionals searching for employment during tough economic times. The site offers advice and tips on resume writing, cover letters, interviewing techniques, as well as how to build a professional brand. For more information, visit the website at RecentGrad.net.

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