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IT worker confused by job description hiding behind desk

Boo! Is your job description scaring off IT talent?

March 21, 2016

By Lisa Dare

If you’re an IT manager, writing a job description is the least of your many worries. You’re busy putting out fires, managing staff, taming your inbox. And you need to backfill a critical developer role yesterday

So you let HR handle the job posting. Recruiting candidates is their job, right? And since you need candidates right away, you certainly don’t want to delay posting.

But then … weeks pass. You have two resumes for a critical role, and neither of them passes muster. It must be the IT skills gap at work again.

Or is it?

Consider this crazy disconnect that may give you new perspective on the IT skills gap:

  • 81 percent of IT leaders say it’s difficult to find quality candidates (you knew that already)
  • But 73 percent of IT professionals say it’s hard to find IT opportunities they qualify for

And close to half of these pros blame unrealistic technical requirements in the job description, while many others chose similar issues, like overly specific requirements or vague soft skills. What they mean is this: Your job ad is full of so many unnecessary requirements that it’s scaring away—or just annoying—the candidates reading it.

Worse, you’re not taking advantage of the opportunity to express why the position is desirable: Is it the interesting problems to solve, a great team dynamic, the latest and greatest tech? Traditional job descriptions focus on what the company needs and ignores what the candidate wants—not a great strategy in a highly competitive labor market. 

What do IT workers think about your job ad?

IT professionals feel strongly about this topic. You can read our recent LinkedIn chat, but here are a few of their biggest job description turnoffs:

My biggest turnoff in a job description is a requirement for a long list of technologies that almost nobody would reasonably have unless they worked for that specific company already! 

–Bob Schuch, programmer/analyst

I also believe that a salary range should be listed. I don't care who you are, what you make at a job is a major contributor to why you do it. If you don't know what the salary range is you may be wasting your time and the time of the business by researching the opportunity.

–David I., sales consultant

A long list of requirements for an entry level job

–Brian H., designer

Lack of detail in expected responsibilities. Followed by no salary listing, but that's common, so I've come to expect it.

–Anthony M., IT professional

Seeing a listing that includes every IT and business skill possible and expecting the candidate to have them ALL. Just trimming it down to the essential skills would save a lot of time.

–Curt S., senior IT analyst

Curt, you are right, over the years I have been trying to find that "perfect" IT person. They do not exist.

–John M., homeland security researcher and cyber security analyst

I think for me it's no salary because I want to know if that is in my ballpark range. If salary is too low (especially for the type of work involved) it's not really worth pursuing the position

–Eric D., senior IT support professional

Trying to recruit "rock stars." You can't recruit a rock star, get real.

–Joshua S., information technology services professional          

What's next: Fixing the problem    

Read: Ultimate guide to the perfect IT job description

Or if you're looking for a great opportunity, visit our IT jobs page for thousands of current opportunities. 

Lisa Dare is the TEKsavvy blog editor. She frequently writes about IT careers, talent management and tech culture. Follow her on Twitter to keep up with TEKsavvy blog content.

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