Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Want Ads, Decoded

I am a firm believer in temp-to-perm, especially if you're an administrative professional like me. Because, let's face it, secretarial work is remarkably similar everywhere you go. So it's better to try a place out and get a feel for the environment before you sign on long-term.

On occasion, though, I do cruise the want ads. What I find there is usually so unappealing that I go back to my original temp-to-perm strategy. So, for all you employers out there, here is how job seekers translate common phrases:

"Fast-paced" can mean that you will have a busy, productive day. It can also mean that you will never have time to go to the bathroom, let alone eat lunch anywhere except for your desk. Please clearly delineate between "busy" and "hectic."

"Competitive salary and benefits" means their salary and benefits are competitive...with those of Indonesia.

"Excellent salary and benefits" means they pay slightly more than the "competitive" people.

"Other duties as assigned", like "fast-paced," can mean one of two things. Maybe teamwork is expected, and you have to pitch in on stuff here and there. That's fine. Or it means they don't really know what they want from this position and expect you to figure it out.

"Close supervision" means micromanagement, meddling, and a host of other unpleasant words that begin with the letter M.

"Rapidly shifting priorities" means only one thing: the boss is disorganized and one of those people that doesn't know what they want, and will therefore interrupt you constantly.

My preferred job listings have the following aspects:

They state their salary range upfront. Because if I want less or more money than they're willing to spend, why waste everyone's time? (Yes, sometimes I want less money, as high salaries often follow mandatory overtime.)

They give clear job expectations, without resorting to a bullet-pointed opus. I want a general feel for what the job entails, not an exhaustive list of everything I might potentially do over the course of a year.

They clearly state the name of the organization, and what they're about. This is a problem particular to Craigslist. Don't tell me it's a Glover Park real estate firm, or an environmental nonprofit, or whatever. What if your organization clubs baby seals or distributes kiddie porn? My resume contains my home address and phone number, and I have the right to know where it's going. What if you're not really an employer, but a psycho stalker with an office manager fetish?

Does anyone else have any want ad or job hunting pet peeves?


Michael J. West said...

My pet peeves are not with want ads so much as with recruiters; a while back I accidentally (really!) reactivated my resume on, and recruiters started emailing me every week with exciting jobs at non-profit associations. Even though I'm happy where I am, what drove me nuts is that they would never tell me WHERE the job was.

I would usually write back and say, explicitly, "I don't have a car, so I need a job within the D.C. city limits." And then I would get back, "Actually the position is in Reston. Is that too far away for you?" WTF???? I just told you that I don't have a car and I'm looking at staying inside the city! I'd understand if they said, "It's in Arlington," or even "It's in Bethesda," but Reston??? How the fuck am I going to get to Reston without a car?

Shannon said...

Ha! I think vagueness is always the dealbreaker for me. If I'm sending my resume, you have my home address, email, and cell phone number. How do I know you aren't some psycho stalker with a fetish for office managers? Clearly state the name of your organization in the ad, please.