I am more often than not surprised by the amount of time it can take for a company to develop a position description and yet at the end of the day not really be able to capture the essential elements for a particular opportunity.
I suppose in part this is because senior level position descriptions are a compromise. They are partly a reflection of who is in the job currently, but they also reflect things that the individual who held the job previously wasn’t able to accomplish. And, let’s not forget the fact that the company at which these tasks are to be performed isn’t static either.
As readers of the end result, and especially with regard to opportunities that come our way from the relationships members have with the search community, we are obligated to ‘read between the lines” and decide if we are qualified.
The greatest disqualifier in my mind mirrors real estate: location, location, location. I push very hard with those to whom I actually speak to provide that information as narrowly as possible. The exact city would be nice. Sure we may guess who their client is, but that may be better than saying Northeast or Midwest. (We seem to have more than a few members in these locations!)
Next, I suggest that the compensation be set out. Sure, there is a range, but it is sometimes hard as an outsider to tell the value of a particular posting. Who is in a better position to sound out the client, a candidate or the search firm? If the compensation is extremely high or extremely low versus your prior profile, it helps to know so that you can decide whether or not to apply. Sometimes at the low end, if it is local, you might actually consider it.
However, the one thing that you can’t allow yourself to do is to ponder very long, or to write for more information. Usually, all that is known by the individual posting an opportunity is right there. Consider for a moment exactly what kind of information they might be withholding that made known to you would cause you to apply or not apply. After location and compensation, there really aren’t any.
I am assuming here that the “must haves” of skill set are detailed in some manner. Perhaps that is a big assumption, but even probing on this issue isn’t going to gain you much ground. Just like in college when you had an essay exam, the problem is the same. If more information were available to be provided, it would most likely be made available to one and all. And, it would be in the job posting itself. Why would anyone set themselves up to be asked more questions?
The most important issue to keep in mind is that today, opportunities disappear in a matter of hours not days or weeks. By disappear, I mean that a sufficient number of responses have been received and getting back to you about your legitimate question is just not going to happen.
So, in keeping with our twin goals of only responding when qualified and responding on a timely basis, I have to urge you to guess as needed.
Be mindful of what you consider, based on AVAILABLE information, to be the most important skill sets and if you are a fit have at it.
As they say, he (or she) who hesitates is lost.