job profiles

A plea! Keep job profiles real!

Why do we get job profiles so wrong?

Lost in translation

As both an executive search professional and a career coach, I am frequently bemused how hiring managers and job seekers fail to communicate with each other and misunderstand or even misrepresent themselves in the process. I’m very mindful there is a strong sales role involved, with both parties wanting to present themselves in a positive light in CVs and job profiles, but sometimes things are taken too far. The end result is ill feeling, frustration and lost time for everyone involved in the process. Nowhere is this clearer than in the preparation of, and response to, job profiles.

Over qualification

For the hiring manager the seniority and level of a team can be an in-house status symbol. This is why on some occasions the academic requirements demanded for some positions and included on job profiles, would ordinarily be sufficient to split the atom or find a cure for cancer or HIV. MBAs are not essential for all openings! If we are absolutely honest, a number of jobs don’t even require a degree, let alone any post grad qualifications. Provided that literacy, numeracy and social skills are in place as well as any relevant professional experience, the university of life would be just fine. Heaven forbid if the Receptionist should look for a financial instrument in a tool box.


We also have zany, inaccurate or simply incomprehensible job titles, which switch from time to time because they are closely linked to trending buzz words. Some of these are meant to be fun or to give lower level jobs some clout, but they can be misleading. Gallerista (art sales) Head of People or People Officer, (sounds like something from the Red Army), Nail Technician  (carpenter or beautician?), Strategic Focus Specialist ( I thought strategy was focused)  Head of Culture, Bakist (cake maker?) Certified Scrum Master (rugby team coach?) Managing Co-Ordinator (seems to be a misnomer – do they co-ordinate or manage?) or any bizarre combinations of technician, engineer, specialist, consultant, executive or other words with the ” ist” suffix.


The same can be said for years and type of experience required. Sometimes I see profiles asking for experience levels which when totalled, would cumulatively take even entry-level candidates to retirement age. Or demanding experience in certain technologies which have only been around for less than the time period required (10 years in social media, some softwares) The reverse also applies, I see ads for experienced interns! Isn’t the whole point of an internship – to gain experience?

Old jokes

There are also all the old recruitment jokes about hiring speak:

  • fast paced environment = no time to train you.
  • ability to handle heavy workload = You whine, you’re fired.
  • some overtime required = some time tonight and in fact, some time every night
  • flexible compensation package = sometimes we pay you, sometimes we don’t
  • high level of travel = family life will become a distant memory

Candidates need to get it right too

But the converse can be said for candidates. I posted an ad earlier in the year which clearly stated “fluency in German essential.” After being inundated with applications from all corners of the world where the candidates clearly didn’t know a brockwurst from a bratwurst I had to add  “fluency in German mandatory. I will be unable to respond to candidates not meeting this requirement” which did seem a bit rude. Or there was the “social media genius” with 10 LinkedIn connections and 5 tweets to his name, applying for a position as a Social Media Consultant. This is one reason that so many CVs drift into cyber space – they are not on target!

So why don’t we all make life easier for ourselves and just tell it how it really is!

What do you think? Add any crazy things you’ve seen! A prize for the most obscure or off beat!

If you need help with your job profiles get in touch

6 thoughts on “A plea! Keep job profiles real!

  1. Renée

    I once saw a posting demanding French/English, a ph.d in computer science, a ph.d in public administration, for $10/h [minimum wage] and no benefits. The tasks and responsibilities were described as “project coordinator”.

  2. Jacqui Poindexter, Executive Resume Writer

    Hi Dorothy,

    Several excellent points for both job seeker and hiring folks! Though I am rather fond of the title, “Gallerista,” your point is well taken! Make it clear to the recruiter, hiring manager, HR, etc. what you DO or DID versus being so clever with titles that the meaning gets buried.

    When titles are misleading, I often create a synonymous ‘title’ in parentheses or in some other manner to ‘define’ the candidate’s message in reader-friendly terms (as well as pepper the resume with corresponding story and achievements points that knit in the appropriate language).

    Your remark regarding candidates ‘getting it right’ as far as essential and mandatory traits/skills, etc. is important, too. Being ‘real’ about one’s value proposition is essential in order to not chase after opportunities that really are not fitting at all.

    Another meaty post, Dorothy – thank you!


    1. Dorothy Dalton

      Thanks Jacqui – although this was a little tongue in cheeks, the underlying message is that over inflation on both sides of the table make it difficult to realistically match skill sets against requirements. Appreciate your comment.

  3. Pingback: Why women self-deselect from career opportunities - 3Plus International

  4. Bernadette

    “Sports-minded” … just say “competitive ”! As someone who has worked in sports, this is so misleading. And trust me, you may not want some of the folks I’ve worked with in sports…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *