How to Decipher Job Posts

Asperger’s & NLD Career Letter, May 2020

Adam’s resume generated a steady stream of job interviews. However, he had not received a job offer during his 10 months of searching. He had a bachelor’s degree in the technology field, and successfully completed two internships while in school. He had a professionally written resume, made a good personal appearance, and maintained the right level of eye contact during interviews.

Adam did have some difficulty responding to interview questions. We initially focused on how he could better communicate his abilities. Yet despite his excellent progress, Adam did not receive any offers.

It was then that we reviewed the types of jobs that Adam was responding to … and the problem became clear. If Adam saw three or four keywords or phrases that matched his abilities, he considered himself qualified. He overlooked important requirements that did not match his background or skills. Once, for example, he responded to an opening that required fluency in a foreign language. Presuming that a person wouldn’t apply without this essential skill, the employer arranged an interview with Adam. It ended quickly when Adam said that he only spoke English.

Adam also missed important aspects of the work environment. He needed a clear process to follow, and not too much people interaction. Yet he applied to many jobs that involved building relationships with other employees and vendors.

Finally, Adam forgot to filter his searches for entry-level jobs. As a result, he spent a lot of time replying to jobs that required 4 and 5 years of experience, for which he was not invited to interview.

Adam was qualified for entry-level jobs in his field. He needed to learn how to “decode” the language in job posts and use all of the information to understand what a job involved.

Here are some tips for deciphering job posts:

▪ Read job posts completely. If you do not understand most of the requirements, or do not possess the critical skills, you are not qualified. Critical skills are often indicated with phrases such as, “extensive/verifiable experience in …” or “must include … .” Negotiable skills are indicated with phrases such as “preferred …” “desired …” or “is a plus … .”

▪ Employers do not expect to find candidates who match 100% of the listed criteria. Typically the most important requirements are listed first (so pay particular attention to the top half of a list). If you match 70% of the critical skills, it makes sense to send in your resume.

▪ Think about specific skills within the broader context of the job. Terry used social media in her personal life and initially assumed this meant she was qualified to carry out “social media campaigns.” After some research, she realized that the term referred to planning marketing programs on social media platforms — experience she did not possess.

▪ If you determine that you are missing critical skills investigate how to acquire them. Jason assumed that he would need another college degree to qualify for Web site development. It turned out that he could become qualified via a six-month certification.

▪ Do not assume that you are not qualified for jobs that require “good people skills” and the ability to multitask. The definition of these terms depends on the type of job, an industry or even a company. A customer service position requires very different communication ability than a job writing computer code. Multi-tasking can mean being responsible for several different tasks that can be completed one at a time.

The better you are able to match your qualifications to the needs of an employer, the easier it will be to find the right job.

Copyright 2020, Barbara Bissonnette, Forward Motion Coaching