4 questions that reveal secrets of job ads

Do job ads ever look like murder mysteries to you?  You know, there is way too much information and you can’t tell what is important.

It was murder.  The victim had bits of onion in her mouth.  The butler had prepared a sandwich with onions for her, yet claimed to have not seen her.  Is he guilty?  No, the onions are a red herring.  They are a diversion to keep you from seeing who the real criminal is.

Job ads all seem to be long lists of skills you absolutely have to have in order to get a job.  My experience is that job ads are more red herring than meat. When a company sends me a job ad and asks me to find a person for the job, I always have to talk with the person who wrote the ad.  I ask,

  • “What are the absolute minimal qualifications for the job?”
  • “Which of these skills in the ad are the hardest to find?”
  • “What has kept you from hiring the people you have already talked to?”
  • “Is there a hidden qualifier that was left out of the ad?”

As you look at a job ad, ask these questions.  You may even want to call up the HR (Human Resources) department and ask them the four questions.

If you know any of the answers, you can change your resume.  Put your most important qualifications first in a group of bullet points. Mention them in the very first sentence of your cover letter.  Make sure they come out in a phone call.

Most job ads are huge.  The minimal qualifications and the most important skills are usually hidden in the middle of a school of red herring.  Figure out what the most important need is, and point out in an unavoidable way that you qualify.

Something to do today

Have you ever called an HR department to find out the real qualifications for a job?  Try it today.  Use the 4 questions above.


Later:              Resume red herring

Interview red herring

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