Matt Dorey

A bird is sitting on the grass with a kite

Decoding Job Descriptions

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I am looking for a job. Recently I applied for 44 jobs in a single day. Adverts for jobs are quite a curious source of buzzwords and jargon phrases that undergo shifts in language and tone as new hot topics enter the market. Viz the recent adoption of “Big Data” as a thing and analytics etc.

This sequence of posts – decoding job descriptions – examines some of these adverts: stripping them back to the skills, ideas, and personality traits I believe the employer is after. Sometimes I’ll do this as a way of showing the world1 that I have the skill or ability in question, sometimes to show how it’s just some previous skill or ability repackaged, and sometimes just to satirise recruiters because I think that’s all they are good for a lot of the time. I might get things wrong but at least it will be a learning experience.

I appreciate that businesses are always on the lookout for people with the talent that will take them on into new and emerging areas. Often it is the companies that were blind to these capabilities in the first place that are the most overt in recruiting people in order to catch up with a skill deficit. I also note with a wry irony that large corporations are all over big data like a rash, even though many have spent billions of pounds on lobbying politicians that climate change “isn’t real”. When they did this these corporations effectively said that statistics and data analysis were producing lies and fallacies, and now these same corporations are recruiting statisticians and data analysts as though their business depends on it. And it does.

Mostly I’m sick of not matching up to buzzwords despite having a great brain and a great education. I have to write endless copy about myself in job applications and it feels like I am getting nowhere. I get asked whether I am good in an agile environment or if I can work on large data sets or what my philosophy of time management is. But I never get feedback on my answers, even when I ask for it2. Hence this series, which will seek to get the answers to these questions for myself.


I’m self-aware enough to hear the following in my head all the time: “If you spent as much time applying for jobs as you did whining about the state of the job market, you’d have a job in no time!”. However, it really isn’t that easy and I have held back from writing a post like this for a while. I promise that this isn’t a meltdown, I believe that scrutinising job adverts in this way will help me to work out what I do and do not know.

  1. Or at least myself, ahead of some interview or other.
  2. Some companies are so evasive and non-specific with their feedback that I wonder whether I should dye my hair or lie about my age.
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