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How to Interpret Ridiculous Web Design Job Posts

It’s a wonderful time to work in the tech industry. Jobs are plentiful and companies compete for the best talent by offering high salaries and amazing perks. However, if you’ve ever taken the time to slog through the countless job boards and company postings, you’ve probably noticed an alarming trend of inflated requirements in job posts.

If a programming job requires you to wear a business suit, it’s probably a bad sign.

Excerpts from Actual Job Posts

For many job posts, the “requirements” are absurd. They’re too long, unnecessary, or they make absolutely no sense. To give you an idea of what I mean, here’s a sampling of excerpts from real job posts I found. These are so ridiculous, I couldn’t help but add some childish and sarcastic commentary.

Responsible for architecting and defining the presentation layer framework to solve complex designs that reflect the creative and art direction provided

Wow, sounds fancy!

Knowledge in Web2.0 application development (CSS 2 and 3 / JavaScript / HTML 4 and 5)

Ah, that’s good. Don’t want those Web1.0 people applying.

Required Skills:

  • Bootstrap/CSS
  • Client end templates/JSON integration
  • UI design/building web pages
  • JSRender/Dust.js
  • Jquery (JQuery UI)
  • HTML 5.0/Ajax

I didn’t know those were all interchangeable terms!

  • Provide status to supervisor as required.
  • Escalate issues and risks to supervisor in a timely manner.
  • Provide technical inputs on work estimating.
  • Inform the technical architect, technical lead and project manager of any issues that may affect any other areas of the project.

This place sounds like it’s a high energy work environment that appreciates creativity!

Reading Between the Lines

Now that I’ve had my fun, I’d like to delve into a more constructive exercise by dissecting a real job post and rewriting it to sound better. First, let’s take a look at the job post. This is for a “front-end developer” position.

Job Requirements:

  • B.S./B.A. Computer Science or related field
  • 4-6 years of professional website coding experience
  • Expert with HTML/CSS, web standards, best practices and writing clean, semantic code
  • Proficient with javascript, good knowledge of jQuery and creating/debugging jQuery plugins
  • Understanding of OO principles, especially with regard to HTML/CSS/JS and creating reusable UI components
  • Expert knowledge of browser quirks and creating web apps that are consistent across all major browsers
  • Expert troubleshooting and fixing JavaScript/HTML/CSS cross-browser bugs and using debug tools such as firebug
  • Experience optimizing front end code for performance/speed
  • Experience optimizing front end code for SEO
  • Experience developing with an IDE such as Eclipse, using SVN and working on web projects in a team environment – meeting deadlines
  • Ability to code detailed, functional pages from mockups in collaboration with web designers
  • Ability to work with java developers to integrate front end code with server side technology
  • Working knowledge of HTML5, CSS3 and current trends

Believe it or not, this isn’t the worst out there. It’s too verbose and needs a lot of cleaning up, but I can at least get an idea of their needs. Let’s look at some of the highlights.

  • B.S./B.A. Computer Science or related field

Right up front, they’re asking for a computer science degree. There’s a small chance that part of the work will actually require you to have a deep understanding of computer science, but most of the time this isn’t necessary. If you take a closer look, it also says “…or related field” which implies flexibility. I’ve written about college degrees before so I won’t go into too much detail here, but in most cases, you don’t actually need the degree they’re requesting. It’s just standard boilerplate stuff that they feel obligated to mention. I would interpret this as saying, “a college degree can be helpful, but we just want someone that’s smart and dedicated.”

  • 4-6 years of professional website coding experience

Sometimes this is flexible as well. If you’re close with 3.5 years of coding experience, don’t assume that you’re automatically disqualified. Experience is often measured in years but sometimes that doesn’t map perfectly to the technology industry. Some people learn much faster than others. If you know that you’re just as talented as others that have more “years” of experience than you, then go for it.

  • Expert with HTML/CSS, web standards, best practices and writing clean, semantic code
  • Proficient with javascript, good knowledge of jQuery and creating/debugging jQuery plugins

So far this isn’t too bad. Unfortunately they continue with roughly a dozen more lines that say basically the exact same thing, which just confuses things. Let’s keep going…

  • Experience developing with an IDE such as Eclipse, using SVN and working on web projects in a team environment – meeting deadlines
  • Ability to code detailed, functional pages from mockups in collaboration with web designers
  • Ability to work with java developers to integrate front end code with server side technology

This is the real substance of this job post. It sounds like on a day-to-day basis, you’re going to be working with Java developers to integrate front-end code. Typically Java developers use Eclipse, but it also sounds like you can use the editor that you feel most comfortable with. This would be a good thing to ask about during an interview.

Now, let’s rewrite this so it’s easy for human beings to interpret.

Photograph of shredded paper

This is where most job posts belong. Photo from Flickr user Liz West.

Job Posts: Rewritten

Here’s how I would rewrite the “requirements” for this job post. Please keep in mind that I don’t actually have any relationship with this company. This is just my own interpretation based on my prior experience in the industry. Every job posting is different and you should ask for clarification if necessary.

Qualifications:

  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to work well with others
  • Solid understanding of front-end languages and frameworks (primarily HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery)
  • Ability to work with a version control system (like SVN) in a team environment
  • Capable of balancing detail oriented work with important project milestones
  • Experience working with Java developers using IDEs like Eclipse is a big plus
  • 4-6+ years of experience preferred

The word “qualifications” feels a lot better than “requirements” in this case, because usually not all of these are strict requirements. Rather, this is just a list of things that makes you increasingly likely to be a good candidate for the job, which is the case with most web design job posts.

Each bullet point is either a clear technology skill or a soft skill, with no repetition. It’s obvious that they need someone with good front-end skills. However, the second part is easy to miss. It sounds like they need someone that can integrate designs into a Java back-end. They’ll be working with developers using the SVN versioning system, which if you don’t already know, is pretty easy to pick up. This has been replaced with Git in many places, but some companies still use SVN or other versioning systems for one reason or another. As for the soft skills, they could apply to almost any tech job. No matter where you go, it’s likely that you’ll need to work well with other people and do quality work on schedule.

I hope this exercise has been fun and useful for people applying to jobs as well as companies that need to write job posts. If you have any thoughts or questions you’d like to share in the comments, I’m happy to help!

Fuente: blog.teamtreehouse.com

Héctor Hidalgo Sepúlveda
About Héctor Hidalgo Sepúlveda (655 Articles)
Director Ejecutivo - Red de Ex Alumnos USM, Director del Centro de Desarrollo Profesional USM, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María.
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