How not to write a job posting

April 19, 2009

Featured, People, Technology

I keep an eye on the job market, just so I know who’s hiring, what they’re hiring for, and where I fit in with my current skills. I don’t read postings on or anything like that, I just keep up with a few choice job boards. After reading some well-written postings, it’s easy to see what employers want in potential employees. However, recently I’ve also seen a lot of over-inflated job postings that make me wonder about the people posting them and the people applying to them.

For example, take this posting from Rock the Vote:

Rock the Vote builds the political power of young people one voter at a time and has a variety of fellowship roles available. Technology roles include: code guru, database mastermind, security czar, technology strategist, and social media strategist. Positions are currently unpaid and presumed to be full-time, but we are very flexible.

Here’s another example of the first qualification that a startup called RapLeaf is looking for in a candidate:

Amazing coder who takes no prisoners; master of all things Internet; one of the best coders in existence

And finally, there is this buzzword-filled gem:

My client is in need for a world class web 2.0 designer to take them to the next level. You will impact everything from the design and graphics on their website, to our user portal and eStore, to their web/AJAX/Flash application itself. Your designs will change the world as they democratize the way the world collaborates with rich media online. They’re all about ease of use and openness and your design language must speak this fluently. This is your chance to be on the ground floor of the next Facebook.

So enough idle chat – if you can show them examples of your design talent, if you have a passion for perfection, if you delight in seeing people delight in your designs then they want to talk to you. This is intended to be a full time job in Boston, MA for the perfect candidate; contract work if we can’t find that true UI/UX superstar – we will not settle. Only those who think they can teach Steve Jobs a few things or two about usability and design should apply for this position.

I understand the desire to attract top talent, but there must be a better way to approach it, no? “Security Czar,” “Master of all things Internet,” “UI/UX superstar” – it sounds like the search for the next American Idol, Software Edition.

Whenever I see posting like this, two questions come to mind:

  1. Who thinks of themselves as a superstar or a guru? If they do, do you really want them working for you?
  2. If someone really is a superstar, why would they be looking for work? Companies should be fighting over them.

So who do these companies really attract? In the case of Rock the Vote, it’s pretty obvious that they’re not really looking for gurus or “czars.” They’re looking for college kids who need to build up some experience and are willing to do it for free. But what about the other two examples above? It takes a special amount of arrogance to think of yourself as “one of the best coders in existence” or to think you can “teach Steve Jobs a few things about usability and design.” Personally, those are characteristics of people I do not want to work with.

I’m not saying there aren’t true software superstars. I’m just saying that the postings above are not likely to attract them.

Photo credit: Computer Time by Thomas Hawk

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About Natasha Lloyd

Natasha is a professional train rider, an amateur photographer, an avid kayak paddler, a long-time cartoon watcher, and an Interaction Designer at SAP BusinessObjects. She currently lives in Massachusetts, on the outer outskirts of Boston.

View all posts by Natasha Lloyd

4 Responses to “How not to write a job posting”

  1. Kris Says:

    Hi Natasha,

    Stumbled on your post via a Yahoo group (emailroundtable) post.

    You mention “a few choice job boards” you follow.

    Mind sharing?! I’m not a coder really anymore, more into marketing and writing but like to know where the cool people hang out.


    Kris O.

  2. Natasha Lloyd Says:

    Hi Kris,

    Most of the jobs I hear about through the mailing lists of local professional groups that I’m a part of (mainly Boston CHI, UPA Boston, and IXDA Boston for user interface-related jobs). However, you can also find some great job postings here:

    There was a third, but it recently closed down. In general, if there are professional blogs that you read regularly, they may have their own job boards. The two listed above are from the 37signals blog and the Joel on Software blog.

    – Natasha-

  3. Beesdierren Says:

    Hi I am currently out of work. I looked at all the sites more times than I’d care to recall and applied to 100s of positions. However, i have not been able to find a single good response to my applications. If anyone knows about particular job site that provides career advice, please reply me with the location details. I will be thankful to you for your early response.

  4. Michael Ko Says:

    I absolutely agree to your post. Some people expect too much. They will only get some bullsh#t people. LOL

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