What really goes on in the room where job ads are written?

I saw a listing for a security specialist the other day. It listed a  bunch of high-level requirements and looked interesting, though I noticed they also said “heavy attention to detail.” Is that a  realistic expectation for someone who has a more strategic thinking mind?  Can you “pay close attention to detail” and “see the big  picture” on a regular basis? Don’t people tend to have a pull toward one or another?

Maybe I am just a slacker, but as I go on in my career, I am agreeing more and more with the “Strengths” movement that I should focus on my strengths and spend a lot less time wrestling with my weaknesses. While some attention to detail is clearly necessary in any job, I am not convinced that I will ever be as detail focused as someone who thrives on that.

Do you have thoughts on this? Am I wacko or are the job listings?

It’s called the “kitchen sink” approach to job ads. They are usually written by personnel jockeys after they “review” a manager’s requirements and “add” their “insights” about the company’s needs. They throw in everything they think the company “wants.” Big small candidates are perfect because they satisfy two important company goals (in many companies).

Ever go to an interview and realize that the job you read about in the ad has little to do with what the manager wants to talk about?

Bingo. You’re not applying for a job. You’re applying for an ad. Problem is, managers are trying to fill a job. And personnel deparments don’t hire security specialists. They only hire other personnel jockeys. Ooops.

  1. I remember when a well-known publicly-traded company advertised for a senior web developer with at least fifteen years of experience. In 1999. Think HR had a hand in that one?

  2. re: Steve…I love those job posts. Reminds me of when I got chewed out for not having studied Windows 98 in college (Class of 95)

  3. That’s why I never plan to hire a dedicated recruiter. Costs more on the front end, but paying a “real” headhunter a retainer or hiring one on contract is a better use of money. I get irritated with the sales pitch from headhunters, but good ones are worth their weight in gold.

  4. These ads are full of contradictions. It’s why you see garbage like “Must be a team player AND independently minded.” (I have enough trouble Living Inside Myself, and now you want me to join your group too? Sounds Marxist, Groucho that is.)

    It’s not just the hiring manager that ruins this, however. It’s also this notion that because everybody is supposed to get along, we must have everybody’s contribution. That’s how you get these ads of 17+ Must Have’s that nobody could have. I’ve loved those where the Sales department says the person must be aggressive to close the sale yet the Marketing department says must be easygoing to build relationships.

    Meanwhile, like many things in the non-ATH world, the one thing you don’t find in the ad is that three-letter word Biden bellowed: j-o-b-s, jobs!

  5. They always say ‘attention to detail’…as if the people applying are totally clueless and have to be told to pay attention. Anyway, the problem is HR folks usually do not understand (nor do they wish to) the business in which they are working. Also, they don’t understand the positions for which they are recruiting. So if they’ve had a hand in writing the job description, that always gets thrown in!