IT Pro job descriptions suck.
How many times have you seen a truly well written job description for a mid-level systems administration position on a recruitment website? One where after reading it you thought to yourself, “I know exactly the kind of person that they are looking for!” Compare that figure to the number of times you have seen job descriptions that consist of someone throwing every vaguely related buzzword into a couple of paragraphs and bullet lists. Let us not even get started on the “5+ years experience with Windows 7 and Exchange 2010” type advertisements.
IT Pro job descriptions suck. They suck because to get an accurate description of what a specific a systems administrator actually does requires a couple of pages. It requires accurately understanding what an IT pro does. Good position descriptions need to go beyond a few vague buzzwords spread across a couple of paragraphs and a bullet list. As someone looking for a job you don’t really know what you are applying for because the description of what you are applying for is so vague.
How many times have you landed a job where the advertisement or position description accurately mirrors the tasks that you have to undertake on a day-to-day basis?
IT Pro resumes exist in some sort of sick symbiotic relationship with bad position descriptions. This is because resumes accurately represent a candidate’s capabilities as much as a position description accurately represents the job it is advertising. Candidates tailor their resumes to address position descriptions in the hope of catching recruiter’s eyes. It is not unreasonable to think that if your resume looks like the position description, you’ll get called in for an interview.
In theory, a resume concisely describes a person’s experience and qualifications so that a reader it comes to a reasonably accurate conclusion about that person’s capabilities. Unfortunately a document that accurately conveys a mid level system administrator’s abilities and experience is going to require more than the two pages that form the upper limit on what is generally considered to be an acceptable resume length.
If you’ve ever interviewed people for a position you know there is often a big gap between how they come across in their resume and how they come across in the interview. This is primarily because resumes suck. There are people who are far more impressive than their resumes and resumes that are far more impressive than the person that wrote them.
It would be fine if we started with the interview stage, but we have a system where we use resumes as a method of figuring out who we are going to interview!
Recruiters are a good part of the reason that position descriptions and resumes suck. Recruiters are in a position to demand accurate and detailed position descriptions from organizations. They are also in a position to demand accurate and detailed resumes from candidates. In general, they do neither. They are the ones that submit the vague job descriptions to recruitment websites and they are the ones that sort though the resumes that address those job descriptions looking for the right candidate.
What is worse is that that recruiters, who often have little in the way of systems administration knowledge themselves, have a job where they to match a laundry list of requirements that bear little resemblance to what the job actually entails with a large number of resumes that provide a wildly incomplete description of what a person can actually do. The best bit is that recruiters are getting compensated for this service. At least there is some method in the madness.