DiceTV: How to Decode the Language of Job Postings

The Script

What does proficient mean? And, what’s the difference between strong knowledge and expert skills? It seems like job postings are written in some sort of secret code, which is a shame, because job seekers may not apply if they don’t understand the job description or the qualifications.

I’m Cat Miller and we’re translating the secret language of  job postings on this edition of DiceTV.

First, don’t be put-off by job titles. Read the job description to see if you qualify because there’s no standard definition for terms like junior, senior or lead or company-specific titles like: “Systems Admin One” or “Network Communications Three.”

The successful candidate rarely has all of the required skills and experience– that’s why job postings often refer to the “ideal” candidate. Since the job duties and qualifications are usually listed in order of priority consider applying if you satisfy the major requirements on the top half of the list.

Now, let’s decipher the code.

“Working knowledge” or “familiarity” means you know how to perform the task but haven’t done it yourself. “Real-world” means on-the-job experience, not something you learned in the classroom or in a certification course. “Proficient” or “knowledgeable” means you can handle a task or duty or have general knowledge of a software program, but you may need training on advanced functions. “Strong knowledge” means you can hit the ground running with little to no training or coaching. And, “expert” means you know
every aspect of a software program or task and can train others.

Employers often use terms “required” or “must-have” for non-negotiable qualifications while optional skills are listed as “preferred,” “desirable,” or a “plus.” In some cases,  employers will accept experience in lieu of education. Remember, when listed skills are  connected by “or” rather than “and,” that means you’d qualify by satisfying any one of the requirements on the list. So don’t let the particular language of job postings scare you away from opportunities that really are a great fit for you and your skill set.

I’m Cat Miller and this has been DiceTV. We now return you to your regular desktop.

Comments

10 Responses to “DiceTV: How to Decode the Language of Job Postings”

December 09, 2010 at 1:22 am, Turd Ferguson said:

If one works in IT can’t decipher the logic of a job ad (“and”, “or”, “required” , etc) how can they understand any computer language?! they should’nt work in IT.

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December 09, 2010 at 8:47 am, John Gehrke said:

Thanks Cat. I have refrained from applying to some positions because of a long list of potential requirements where I meet perhaps 75% of them, and with a competitive application pool I have assumed I would have little chance. I have years of experience with a variety of hardware and software, and yet I can’t see how one could be expert in all things all of the time.

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December 09, 2010 at 8:56 am, selva Raj said:

Hello Cat Miller,

Your article is wonderful and highly informative.
Good to see such articles.

Thanks for that.
Selva Raj
Symbioun Technologies, Inc

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December 09, 2010 at 9:00 am, Bet said:

Good summary. I like how you pointed out the diff between theoretical and practical knowledge.

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December 09, 2010 at 10:20 am, MattyMat said:

Regardless of the skillset, or the amount of experience, or the amount of exposure, or the wording, or the title, or the education— if it’s NOT on the resume, it will NOT be looked at or taken seriously. Every applicant has this fantasy of an benevolent, all knowing IT hiring manager who’s lap thier resume falls into— NOT THE CASE!! It’s either a company applicant tracking system where search terms/buzz words are absolutely necessary— a $12 an hour sourcer at a staffing agency who doesn’t know the difference between SQL and SDLC— IT recruiters and HR department personnel who can read between the lines but NEED THE VERBIAGE IN THE RESUME. If the resume doesn’t read as close as possible to the job description— you’re wasting yours and everyone elses time.

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December 09, 2010 at 10:36 am, James L Jones said:

Thank You Cat. This has really cleared it up for me.

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December 09, 2010 at 11:58 am, Donald Few said:

Thank you Ms. Miller, after reading some of the comments I too, have failed to apply for positions that I may have had 75% of the skills needed but did not apply assuming that the preferred or working knowledge was the critical critera.

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December 10, 2010 at 3:21 am, Dennis Gordon said:

Thanks for this great speech, Cat Miller.
Your advice should be able to help a lot of job seekers in todays market, not only me!
It is true that some people are often mislead by focusing their attention too much on posted job titles, instead of taking the time to throughly read over descriptions and requirement

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December 14, 2010 at 11:07 am, Ralf said:

I noticed that depending on the market those terms are very bendable, right now I find there are many more SysAdmin jobs then there are qualified candidates.

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January 08, 2011 at 9:17 am, Nabizadeh said:

Dear ms miller
thanks , you have right! but I agree with Matty-mat ,almost everywhere companies takes attention to words not abilities of applicants

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