Do you find that job specifications are detailed enough?

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Andrew Francis

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Sep 1, 2014, 6:49:26 PM9/1/14
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Hi,

This isn't strictly Drupal related, but as fellow developers I'd be really interested in your input.

I'm part of a small team looking at how we can create a product to improve the job hunting process. We're trying to validate a hypothesis based on our experience as developers and job seekers. 

The hypothesis is that developers often struggle to find sufficiently detailed and accurate specifications when job hunting. This often presents a barrier between the position on offer and the most appropriate candidates because the advertisement/specification fails to convey key details, or is written in a way that actually deters candidates. 

I'd like to pose the following questions: 

Do you find that job specification give you enough detail? e.g. Specifics about what you'll be doing, the technical skills required, a sensible salary range, company details, location etc. 

How do you respond to advertisements for jobs where the ideal candidate is described as a "php ninja", "rockstar developer" or similar?

Thanks for taking the time to read this, any answers to the questions, or any feedback about your experiences when applying for jobs would be really helpful. 

Cheers,
Andrew





Paul Waring

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Sep 3, 2014, 1:18:34 PM9/3/14
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On 01/09/2014 23:49, Andrew Francis wrote:
> This isn't strictly Drupal related, but as fellow developers I'd be
> really interested in your input.
>
> I'm part of a small team looking at how we can create a product to
> improve the job hunting process. We're trying to validate a hypothesis
> based on our experience as developers and job seekers.
>
> The hypothesis is that developers often struggle to find sufficiently
> detailed and accurate specifications when job hunting. This often
> presents a barrier between the position on offer and the most
> appropriate candidates because the advertisement/specification fails to
> convey key details, or is written in a way that actually deters candidates.
>
> I'd like to pose the following questions:
>
> Do you find that job specification give you enough detail? e.g.
> Specifics about what you'll be doing, the technical skills required, a
> sensible salary range, company details, location etc.

Very rarely, especially on salary. So many job advertisements for
technical positions use 'dependent on experience' or some other get-out
phrase. A lot of specifications are also unrealistic or unnecessary,
e.g. requiring a CS degree to be a web developer.

The other problem I often find with specifications is that they usually
have a highly uneven balance between 'what we want from you' and 'what
we're prepared to offer in return' (salary, pension, holiday etc.)

> How do you respond to advertisements for jobs where the ideal candidate
> is described as a "php ninja", "rockstar developer" or similar?

They make me cringe, describing candidates in that way seems childish
and unprofessional, and indicates somewhere I probably don't want to work.

Paul

--
Paul Waring
http://www.phpdeveloper.org.uk

Andrew Francis

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Sep 3, 2014, 6:39:48 PM9/3/14
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I think the main culprit of poorly written job specs are on job boards (Monster, CWJobs and the like). These sites consume feeds of available positions that are often written by recruitment companies. These specifications are almost deliberately vague in order to prevent candidates from side-stepping the recruiter and going direct to source. 

I'm not trying to bash recruiters, but there must be a better way to advertise jobs.

We're currently prototyping a community driven approach, where people can help each other make sense of poorly written specs in a 'pay it forward' manner. Hopefully if it gains some traction within the development community we can make it clear that badly written job specs are helpful to no-one.

Andrew

JHellings

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Sep 4, 2014, 5:44:29 AM9/4/14
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Do you find that job specification give you enough detail? e.g. Specifics about what you'll be doing, the technical skills required, a sensible salary range, company details, location etc. 

It's been a while since I searched for employment (I've been self-employed for several years) but, when I did, I found that most tech job adverts had one of two failings:

1) Ask for a broad set of skills, e.g. "We want someone with experience of PHP, FrameworkX, coffeescript, Geolocation applications, social media and two-handed nose picking."

or

2) Ask for 5 years or more experience in technology X.

Neither of these told me they were trying to achieve and what was really important to them. If the advert was by the company seeking the employee then this didn't matter too much. Just call up and ask. If the advert was by a recruitment agency then calling was frequently useless. I would often have a subset of what was asked for and made a judgement call about whether to apply, based as much on confidence as on suitability.



How do you respond to advertisements for jobs where the ideal candidate is described as a "php ninja", "rockstar developer" or similar?

I stopped looking for employment before I noticed these terms in job ads. If I saw them now I would probably think, "You have no idea what you need," and either start a dialogue to establish their real requirements or look elsewhere.

Justin

Tim Dobson

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Sep 4, 2014, 7:23:35 AM9/4/14
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On 01/09/14 23:49, Andrew Francis wrote:
> I'd like to pose the following questions:
>
> Do you find that job specification give you enough detail? e.g.
> Specifics about what you'll be doing, the technical skills
> required, a sensible salary range, company details, location etc.

The thing about salary is that often even a sensible range can be a
good indicator. We've advertised jobs a few times for "$something
level Sysadmins at £X0k-£X0k" and that works quite well. It means
candidates can say "well, this job is/isn't worth applying for".

Another thing I find isn't advertised so well is benefits of the job -
how many days holiday do you offer?

I'm grateful that we're reasonably clear here:
https://www.bytemark.co.uk/company/work_for_us/

One of my colleagues had a more pressing issue, that somehow (and the
blame has to rest with him to some degree) he didn't realise he'd be
forced to work from a corporate Windows desktop (as a Linux Sysadmin),
filling in 15 minutely timesheets, and going through elaborate changee
management systems to change anything ("write here the commands you're
going to run on the server", "write here the impact these commands
could have"). Somehow that culture hadn't got through to him during
any of the interviews, and ultimately it wasn't a good fit.

> How do you respond to advertisements for jobs where the ideal
> candidate is described as a "php ninja", "rockstar developer" or
> similar?

I'd read the rest of the advert. Some companies can pull it off well -
http://jobs.bufferapp.com/ - many can't, but there are faster turnoffs
in job adverts than unusual titles.

- -Tim
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Ian Price

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Sep 8, 2014, 1:21:06 AM9/8/14
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The issue with many of these job specs is that they are just gathering  potential recruits when there is no job available. Hence the specs are wide open, general and vague, asare the package details.

Most of us are aware that robots are used to scan CVs to pick likely candidates. It is time this system was properly designed to be database application with a standard candidate and recruiter proformas for details.

There have been some attempts at this approach but they have been poorly implemented and have not succeeded.

As for the 'rockstar/ninja' adverts, I immediately skip them for much the same reasons already stated here.

Kind regards
Ian Price

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Andrew Francis

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Sep 8, 2014, 9:18:47 AM9/8/14
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The issue with many of these job specs is that they are just gathering  potential recruits when there is no job available. Hence the specs are wide open, general and vague, asare the package details.

I agree, there are many fake specifications out there designed to lure candidates into registering with recruiters. Although this convention is quite well known amongst candidates there is no incentive for recruiters to back away from this approach. On most job boards the positions are sorted by relevance and date. The issue is that a spec that is written inaccurately or fictitiously has just as much weight as a legitimate one. 

We believe that a community driven approach would help in this respect. If the community believes that a job spec has no value then it will not appear prominently in any results. 

Most of us are aware that robots are used to scan CVs to pick likely candidates. It is time this system was properly designed to be database application with a standard candidate and recruiter proformas for details.

I've been interested recently by efforts to standardise the format that CVs use, a project called Json Résumé recently prompted much discussion on Hacker News. Though there have been suggested ways of marking up CVs since the early 2000's with the delightfully named Human Resources Management Markup Language (HRMML). The problem with any standard is that it must have mainstream adoption. The only 'standard' that has mainstream adoption for CVs is arguably LinkedIn.

Thanks,
Andrew 

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