Demystifying the job specification

One of the vital aspects of any move is your ability to successfully interpret the job specification and for many, this elusive document carries with it information that provides no insight into the vacant role.
However, there is a part of the job specification that is always left out and is actually vitally important - who was the incumbent in the role and why did they leave. (that's if the role is not a new) 

I all cases the name of the person is never provided and the reason for that person leaving is also very seldom provided. But why is this an important bit of information that is left out of the process especially for the job seeker? Here are some ways to unearth this key piece of information. 

Interview research 

When moving into the interview process knowing the background of the incumbent who left the position can provide an absolutely vital piece of the puzzle. This small bit of info can give you a head start in the interview process. By using LinkedIn as your research tool you will be able to gain insight into this information without having to ask a soul. 

The outgoing incumbent's job description

Most job specifications have too little information, the wrong information or irrelevant information. Individuals who work for companies often will have the job descriptions on their LinkedIn profile and provide the reader with information that is not in the specification. Again research here is the key! 

Promotion or straight out exit 

Was the person promoted or did they just leave? Employees who left within a period of three to twelve months is a sign of a potential problem. The LinkedIn profile will never provide you with this info however you can gain insight by studying the employees hiring background and promotion history within the company. Does the person have a history of moving every year, or have a long stay and was promoted. Was the person left in the role without promotion for some time? 

Average employment period within a company

By looking at similar profiles within a company, again usage LinkedIn as your research tool, one will be able to see what the average stay of employees is at that company. This is crucial especially when looking at individuals who could be working within the same department or unit. A track record of employees who have left under a year with a particular company is also a warning sign and should be investigated in the interview process. LinkedIn premium actually provides insight into these trends under the job section tab. 

The employee's background before joining the company

Was this person hired from the same role in a different company or were they hired without the exact experience. This will help you immensely to prepare your interview strategy. By understanding this persons background, especially if they have a long stay with the previous employer you can determine key experience in their background that is not mentioned in the minimum requirements of the job specification. When preparing for your interview these hidden attributes can be subtly mentioned in the interview providing you with an advantage over other candidates. Obviously, you can include this extra information in your CV as well. Just remember you must have actually had this experience or exposure. 

The last word from my side on this important topic. 

By far the most important part of the specification is the minimum requirements section. You should always draw the attention to the parts of your CV that indicate that you meet these minimum requirements. This can be done in your cover letter or first page of your CV. 

In my next few article, I will cover the use of research on LinkedIn to help you find work. 
Happy hunting. 


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