There is close within job descriptions that can be helpful to you. In this video, I reference an article from Harvard Business Review in and my own special sauce on top of it. The source article generally deals with less experienced people. I special twist at the end.

Read Full Transcript

Decoding job descriptions is what I'm going to talk about today. I'm Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, a coach who helps people professionally in a number of different ways. And I used to do executive search, and help people find work, help organizations fill positions,.

There was a really good article in Harvard Business Review, called "What job description jargon is actually saying." So I thought I would use this as a framework for my own opinions about things and I'm going to have a big piece at the end. So hang in there toward the end. Because I think that's almost as important as the entire article. It's more practical than the entire article.

So the first thing they point out, and I think this article is really geared toward less experienced people, rather than more experienced people. And you'll see why in a second. And I'm going to add in the pieces for the more experienced person. So the first thing is know what's "required" and what's referred to as "desired."

Requirements are absolutes. Desires are pluses; requirements, unless there's one of these huge lists of skills, the primary ones are there are listed sequentially in terms of relative importance. So if you have the fifth, sixth, and seventh, but not the first four, the probability is you're not qualified. Focus on the first four of the list, or the first group of the list. And on the desires, I encourage people, where you have them, bring it to their attention. As a matter of fact, when you send the cover email, or upload your resume and have the opportunity to talk about your background, create something that calls attention to this requirements that you meet, and the desired skills and experiences that you also have. So that's point number one.

Point number two, there are hints in the job description about the corporate culture. Now from a writing standpoint, the more severe and austere and bureaucratic the job description is, the more likely you're looking at a formal culture. The more shall we say exclamation points are in the job description. And the more relaxed the language, the more likely it is, this is a looser culture. There's no guaranteed but there tends to be a hint in the writing style that suggests corporate culture.

Next part of this is numbers of years of experience. Now, here, the article focuses on less experienced people. So the classic example is a two to four year experience person. Let's say in meeting the qualifications, don't fixate on the number of years. You can go a little bit less; you can go a little bit more.

So for example, you know, instead of two to four, it could be one to five or six. The real thing is about the functionality of the role, and whether or not you'd be qualified. And I have to say, from your standpoint, interested, as, let's say, a six year person doing a job that a four year person might be interested in.

Also, titles can be a little screwy, because one person's, as they use the example, coordinator can be another organization's manager. So be careful about the titles here.

And these days, as I'm recording this, at the beginning of 2021, most jobs are going to be remote unless there's something concrete where you have to go to a client site. And it's very clear. Like, if you're a landscaper, obviously you're going to people's homes or organizations, premises. Those will get spelled out. But most jobs these days are going to be remote.

They may ask you in the job description, whether or not you're open to working at their location when everyone gets back into the office. And you have to make your own choice about how to respond to that.

Now the piece I want to add in at the end is that job descriptions are 80% accurate. And I say that because most hiring managers never take the time to update them. They recycle them over and over again over years, and even their predecessor's job descriptions, they're using to this day. So, when you actually get to the interviewer, the first thing you need to do is to clarify what it is that they're looking for by saying, and this can be, by the way, with a thumthe phone screener round. "Hey, thanks so much for making time to speak with me. You know, I recall the job description but I want to get your take on the role. Can you tell me about the job as you see it and what I can do to help." And that will give you the current roadmap for the role.

I'm Jeff Altman. Hope you found this helpful. My website is Go to the blog and go exploring there. There's just a lot there to help you. And, and, at a minimum, put that address in your phone for a point later on where you might think you need some advice, because you can hire me to coach you or hire me to answer some of your questions. I'd love to help.

Connect with me on linkedin at And the last thing I just want to mention, subscribe to my podcast , Nno BS Job Search Advice Radio. It is the number one podcast in Apple podcasts for job search with more than 2000 episodes over 10 years.

Have a terrific day. be great. Take care!


JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a free Discovery call.

If you have a quick question for me, you can get it answered with a 3-5 minute video at Want to do it live?

If you want to learn how to interview like a pro, order “The Ultimate Job Interview Framework” from The Kindle and print versions are available on Amazon.

Connect with me on LinkedIn. Like me on Facebook.Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter | Job Coach

Join and attend my classes on Skillshare.Become a premium member and get 2 months free.

Watch my videos on YouTube at, the Job SearchTV app for FireTV, Roku or a firestick or for AppleTV and 90 smart tv platforms.

You can order a copy of “Diagnosing Your Job Search Problems” for Kindle on Amazon and receive free Kindle versions of “No BS Resume Advice” and “Interview Preparation.” If you are starting your search, order, “Get Ready for the Job Jungle.”

Don’t forget to give the show 5 stars and a good review in iTunes. It helps other people discover the show like you did.



Photo by Zen Chung from Pexels

About the author

Leave a Comment, Thought, Opinion. Speak like you're speaking with someone you love.

%d bloggers like this: