Decrypting Job Descriptions 📖 cover image

Decrypting Job Descriptions 📖

Oliver Sarfas • April 30, 2019


Whether you're searching for a new role or just looking at the market from curiosity, you'll no doubt have come across a few terms that are shared across most Job Descriptions (JDs). Here's a list of the most common ones that I see day-to-day, and what I interpret them to be;

This comes from having being in the industry for 8 years now. I've applied to literally hundreds of roles, attended over 40 interviews, and written job descriptions for no less than 10 roles.

💰 Salary: Negotiable / Based on Experience

Comical at best this one. Means one of three things;

The way I approach this is never applying for a role unless I have explicitly got a range that they're willing to work with. If they're unwilling to share that, I want 6 figures and a car. They soon realise that a budget exists and are happy to work with you.

🏡 "Possible" Remote Working

Be careful with what companies offer alongside this. Some will often expect you to take a small cut in salary for this "privilege".

If you've read my post on "How to keep a Developer happy" you'll know my stance on Remote Working. It's great, but should not be treated as a "perk".

When a company allows remote working, take it. However be sure that you're not trading off other benefits for this. Remote first should be what companies are offering nowadays. Not remote as an extra.

What normally happens is a company will offer remote working after X months, and even then, it's at most once a fortnight.

Get the details** upfront and early**. If you don't ask about this, then employers/clients have no reason to let you use it.

🌐 Experience with "APIs"

Very vague. Be sure to ask what kinds of APIs you're getting yourself into here. Are they SOAP / REST? XML / JSON / other?

I've recently seen a role that advertises a "modern architecture using the most up to date technologies and web application integrations" - then they ended out using SOAP integrations with basic auth; not very modern at all!

Be sure of your skill-set and compare that directly with what's being offered. Some skills are transferable but you'll want to ensure that you're strengthening your skills for the better, and not learning something that will devalue you in the future (learning an on old technology for instance)

‼ Urgent Vacancy

Someone left and things are falling apart. We need someone to save us now.

This is kind of a good sign for you; if they're that urgent then they will generally be willing to pay more - especially if you're available fast.

If the job is urgent, you need to be asking "why"? Have they just landed the contract of a life time? Taken on too much work? Is there an issue with the work balance that caused someone to leave abruptly?

🏃‍♂️ "Hit the ground running"

Read: "We're not going to give you any on-boarding or "settling in time" to allow yourself to pick up our solutions, code, or processes."

We all love to get work done, and work quickly - proves our worth and makes us feel proud of our output. However when starting a role you will naturally expect your output to be a little lower than normal as you have to establish yourself in the business and learn their ways.

If a company isn't willing to help you through this process by giving a good handover, some 1-2-1 time with an existing employee talking through how things work; then it might be worth giving this one a miss.

⏳ "Able to work on multiple projects with tight deadlines"

Read: We don't know how to spec out our projects with a proper timeline or project management structure. You're going to be working at 100%, all the time. Be ready to Burnout real fast.

Now there are some companies that do have multiple projects running at the same time, all with their own deadlines. However, you'll be lucky to find one that manages these properly and ensures that the projects do not interfere with each other and cause masses of backlog / headaches for all involved.

If this is mentioned, ask about their Project Management, Software Development Life Cycle, and how expectations are managed / measured with regards to project output.

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