Many job postings you see online have a boilerplate of candidate requirements at the bottom, regardless of the job. The most common things employers are looking for are:
- Multi-tasking in a fast-paced environment
- Excellent written and verbal communication
- Fast learners
The reason why these always appear in every job posting is that human resources departments managing job applicants are stretched for time. That means they can’t always customize each job posting.
The reality is that these generic attributes won’t necessarily help you GET the job, but they could help you KEEP the job. They are really just boilerplate. That said, it still can be smart not to ignore them completely.
Using myself as an example, let’s break down what they mean:
This is definitely not my strength. I much prefer to work on a project basis where I can focus on the task at hand. By doing so, I will be less stressed and more productive. My work with individual clients for resume writing and coaching is a good example. In that scenario, I’m only doing something for one person at a time, resulting in a higher quality of work.
This can sometimes be “code” for an environment where younger adults are working. I just turned 70, and I don’t want to work in a place where everyone is running around, stressed out the way I was when I was 27-ish. I’ve only ever once had someone describe a work environment that was not fast-paced – Stanford University.
Good written and verbal communication:
This is a yes for me, but not necessarily for everyone. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there are a lot of people for whom English is not their first language. Being able to communicate across cultural lines becomes second nature in a situation like this.
In 20 years of helping people get jobs, I have only had one person tell me he was not a fast learner. I appreciated his candor. He said he knows he is not a fast learner, but once he understands something new, he “gets it” and was just fine.
Personally, I am a fast learner in many ways. However, I do fit into the stereotype of an older person having trouble learning new software. Very frustrating!
The Bottom Line
So, when I put all these things together, it looks like I would not do particularly well in a fast-paced environment where I have to multi-task non-stop and learn new software quickly. It just doesn’t fit my personality. However, that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be perfect for the job.
Here are four things you can do when deciding if you “fit” the job requirements:
- Review in detail the entire “candidate requirements” section of the job posting, including the boilerplate.
- Decide what actually make sense for the job itself, and ignore the rest.
- Think about whether this job will actually be a good fit for you, based on the boilerplate.
- Be prepared to discuss those points in an interview.
It’s that last one that sometimes trips people up! If you aren’t sure how to frame your answer to the “multi-tasking” questions in your interview, I can help! I am a professional resume writer and have been helping people get jobs for 20 years. If you are interested in discussing your own resume, you can schedule a NO CHARGE consultation to discuss.