Let’s say you’ve decided to get back into the job market. Maybe you’re no longer passionate about your current position, you’ve decided to move from public accounting to industry, or you’re ready to switch from accounting to finance.
You start by looking over several job descriptions, but you don’t really fall in love with any of them. Since you’re busy with your current job (and life), you throw your hat into the ring, but only for one or two job openings.
I often see candidates in this exact situation, and I get it—it’s much easier to choose your favorites and only apply to those jobs. But even if a job description alone doesn’t capture your attention, I encourage you to dig a little deeper before making a decision.
What a Job Description Doesn’t Do
Job descriptions are very important, both to the employer and employee (or potential employee). However, they’re just the tip of the whole job iceberg.
A job description doesn’t capture the full picture of the growth of the company, and it cannot give you a lot of detail about important topics, such as who you’ll be working with. Also, job descriptions aren’t usually written by professional writers, so they may not draw you in with their witty prose.
Now, this doesn’t mean that job descriptions don’t have some deal-breakers.
“Even if a job description alone doesn’t capture your attention, I encourage you to dig a little deeper before making a decision.”
One example is location: You don’t necessarily have to interview for a job in a place where you know you don’t want to live or commute to (assuming the job doesn’t allow for telecommuting).
But if the description doesn’t include any such deal-breakers for you, don’t strike the job from your list prematurely.
Don’t Overthink Qualifications
Another thing to keep in mind about a job description: It’s written with the perfect candidate in mind. The list of requirements is, to some extent, a wish list — it’s a list of all the things the hiring managers would like to find in a candidate. Usually, it’s a combination of things that are true requirements and nice to haves.
Be careful that you don’t self-select out of a potential job — something that women do disproportionately to men. There may be some qualifications you have that are on the hiring company’s must list, and the skills you don’t have may be things that you could develop on the job.
This is one of the benefits of working with a recruiter, such as BVOH Search + Consulting: A good recruiter will help you determine which qualifications are most important, and which ones are more likely to fall into the nice-to-have category. They’ll also help you honestly assess your skills, find what you may have missed and determine your suitability for a job.
Cast a Wide Net
Even if you don’t feel love at first sight with a job description, seriously consider meeting with the company. Going in for an interview will only give you more information about the strength and growth of the company, the people you would be working with, and the company’s corporate culture.
As you move up the ladder, later in your career, you won’t be able to interview for as many jobs because there probably won’t be as many positions you’re interested in. (For example, each company only has one CFO.) But earlier, you’ll have much broader opportunities, and you should take advantage of that.
“Keep your eyes and mind open, and you may find a new position that’s very close to your dream job.”
The more interviews you do, the more context you’ll have for what’s out there in your field, and you’ll learn more about what you like and don’t like. Your goal should be to get multiple offers — not just one — so that you will have several from which to choose. The only way to get multiple offers is to interview at multiple companies simultaneously.
Think about it this way: We compare all kinds of things before we buy — cars, airline tickets, etc. We compare prices and features. Why wouldn’t you compare jobs as well? Compare opportunities, the vitality of the companies, and the personalities of the teams, as well as salaries. Don’t shortchange yourself on your career.
Stay Focused, Yet Open-Minded
To keep yourself focused on what you want from your next job, think about your deal-breakers, and make a list. Then evaluate the things you most want to gain from your next position, and write those down, too. You can refer to these lists as needed to keep yourself on track.
Oftentimes your first awareness of a job is through its description. Just remember that it is such a small part of the picture. Don’t get too hung up on it. Go in for an interview and meet the people behind the description.
Keep your eyes and mind open, and you may find a new position that’s very close to your dream job.