There are many resources available to a Job Seeker that may be used to gain a competitive advantage over the competition. One of the most important of these tools for the Job Seeker is the Job Description.
The Job Description is a document that is used for several different reasons by an employer. The following are a few ways that an employer will use a Job Description:
• Compensation – Medium to Large companies will have a formal process for determining the “grade” of a position. This “grade” or score of the position will determine where it should be slotted for minimum and maximum salary. This process is driven from a review of an accurate Job Description.
• Physical Requirements – For jobs that have physical labor duties, the physical analysis associated with the Job Description will provide a basis for understanding and documenting the manual requirements.
• Managing Others – Although all Job Descriptions have the qualifier that “other duties may be assigned as needed”, the document does serve to create an understanding between an associate and their supervisor regarding what is expected of them in the position.
• Recruiting – This would be both internally and externally for a position. The Job Description gives you a brief overview of a position to learn from and determine if they are interested. The Job Description will serve as a basic outline for a recruiter to write a posting for a position. The expectation is that prior to applying for a position, a person should review the information available to determine if they are qualified and interested.
So how should a Job Seeker go about seeking Job Description information?
• From the Posting or Advertisement – As stated earlier, the basis for these items is the Job Description. By reading this document, you should be able to draw some conclusions regarding the essential functions and duties of the position.
• Website – If you would like to have the full document as opposed to the posting version, you may be able to find it on the career section of the company’s website.
• Networking – Often employers will offer the full Job Description to associates who are thinking of posting internally or for people considering making a referral. Partner with someone from within the organization to obtain your copy.
• Ask For It – Most recruiters will send you a copy of the document typically via e-mail if you are interested.
What should you do once you have a Job Description?
• Determine Your Interest Level – Going into any Job Search, you should have an idea of what your responsibilities will be or what type of work you are seeking. The Job Description should give you a feeling for whether there will be a fit between the position and what you want.
• Check Your Qualifications – Rarely (almost never) does someone who is not qualified get considered for a position. Even if they do, it would probably be a recipe for disaster if they were to actually work in the position since he or she does not have the skills for success. Use the Job Description to determine if you will be qualified enough to be considered.
• Write Your Cover Letter and Tweak Your Resume – By now most Job Seekers know that it is important to have a customized Cover Letter for each position you are apply to. You should also tweak your Resume as necessary based on what you learn in the Job Description. The narrative of the Cover Letter should emphasize how you possess the key skills noted prominently in the Job Description. Your resume should be tweaked to emphasis any experience and/or skills listed in the Job Description.
• Prepare for the Interview – The Job Description will provide you with clues regarding what job-related questions will be asked by interviewers. Use this information to prepare answers for suspected questions. Come prepared with detailed examples of how you have performed in key areas noted on the Job Description. If there is a skill listed on the Job Description that you do not currently have, you should be prepared to answer how you want/plan to acquire that skill.
One final note, it should be a cause of at least a little concern if a company you are speaking to cannot locate a Job Description or only has one that is severely outdated. Good companies periodically review their Job Descriptions for accuracy and make sure prior to a recruit that they have one updated.
Too often Job Seekers do not use the tools easily available to them to provide a competitive advantage. Use the Job Description to distinguish yourself from the others.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: