Can you tell what’s wrong with this Job Description?

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Recently I came across an email from a job board looking to hire an Network Engineer with the following requirements:

Education and/or Experience

Diploma/ Bachelor’s degree (B.S.) from an accredited University in Computer Science, Information Technology, Networking or similar field. Minimum 4 years of related experience.

Technical Skills – Individual should have experience in/working knowledge of

    • TCP/IP internetworking, general routing, layer-2 protocols, multicast and LAN architecture
    • Routing protocols
    • (MPLS) WAN

Job Description

    • 3-15 years of experience in Networking
    Responsibilities:-
    • Extensive experience in MPLS WAN
    • Experience in non-cisco products such as (Bluecoat, Checkpoint, F5, Fortigate, Riverbed).
    • Experienced in driving a team in maintaining service levels, problem resolution and escalations.
    • Reporting network operational status by gathering, prioritizing information; managing projects.
    • Basic knowledge of provisioning, implementation, and documentation of complex network and platform configurations.
    • Install, configure and maintain leading router and switching protocols including but not limited to SNMP, SIP, RTP, Netflow, BGP, OSPF, QoS, MPLS, HSRP and EIGRP.
    Certifications like CCNA/CCNP/CCIE Preferred

Can you tell what’s wrong with this Job Description?
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Here’s a hint: It’s inconsistent.

What is it you really want?

First, take a look at the number of years of experience required: 3 to 15 years of extensive experience in Networking.

I’m imagining myself as the job applicant who is interested in this position. Some of the questions that I would have running through my head are:

    • Exactly what kind of network engineer are they looking for?
    • Is there no difference between one who has 3 years experience and one who has 15 years experience?
    • Can someone with 3 years experience be considered having extensive experience?
    • If I have 15 years related working experience, why would I apply for a job that would be willing to consider a person with only 3 years experience? What gives?

As far as I know in the IT industry, there is a HUGE difference between someone with 3 years of working experience and one with 15 years extensive experience.

Second, in the education/experience section, it states “Minimum 4 years of related experience”. However in the Job description section, it asks for 3 to 15 years of experience.

So what is it they are really looking for?

Job descriptions like these are unfortunately all too common. It goes to show that the person writing this JD doesn’t quite know what they really want. It is almost like “I’ll caste the net wide and hope for the best” mentality. It also reeks of a “cut and paste” approach to writing Job Descriptions.

What You Should Do Instead


Here’s what you should do to improve the above Job Description:

    1. Be absolutely clear how many years of working experience you want. If you can’t be specific, then a narrower range would do. For instance, 3-5 years experience required; or 10-15 years experience required. You need to be focused so as to attract / invite only those who qualify to apply for the position.

    2. Ensure your requirements are consistent throughout. In the JD above, 4 years of working experience and 3-15 years experience are not the same. The lack of clarity will serve to confuse job applicants.

    3. Many of the requirements listed under Responsibilities can actually be consolidated under Technical Skills and Experience.

For instance, knowledge of Bluecoat, Checkpoint, F5, TCP/IP, SNMP, SIP, RTP, Netflow, BGP, OSPF, QoS, MPLS, HSRP and EIGRP, etc are all Technical Skills, knowledge and Experience. These are not responsibilities.

Responsibilities would include:

    o Experienced in driving a team in maintaining service levels, problem resolution and escalations.
    o Reporting network operational status by gathering, prioritizing information; managing projects.

The Lack of Clarity


The truth is most hiring managers end up with poor hires because of the lack of clarity in terms of what they want in their candidates, why they are hiring that position, and not knowing how to conduct an effective interview.

The clearer you are about what is needed for that position to be successful, the more precise and concise you will be with your job description and the job advertisement.

So is it any wonder many recruiters and hiring managers lament the lack of suitable candidates?

To find out more on how you can become a more effective recruiter/hiring manager, please click here.

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May 10, 2016

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