Find the real qualifications for a job ad

In a murder mystery on TV show the culprit is never the obvious answer. It’s not the neighbor who hated them and their dog, and their kids and who had their blood on their clothes. it’s always an unassuming character from left field.

Man in Gray Long Sleeve Suit Holding a Pen

Job ads are like a murder mystery TV show. Job ads often have long lists of qualifications and most are going to be red herrings. Only a few of those are really going to be important. Remember, these ads are written by HR, not the hiring manager. 

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.

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