Avoiding a Common Mistake Searching for Jobs

Maybe you’ve felt like you can’t quite find enough jobs that match your level and experience? Not enough junior positions or lead positions? I want to outline a few things about how job postings work to help you find more opportunities.

There Are No Standard Titles

Not many people pause to think about this little truth, but there are no standard titles associated with our jobs in our industry. Some conventions are followed more widely than others.

For example, new devs tend to target junior or entry-level positions. While the intent of this is spot on, the hiccup is that searching for these literal terms only helps you find the companies that use that title. They miss all the opportunities at companies that simply don’t have that title!

The higher up you go, the problem shows up again. Everything past Senior lacks any real convention. So you might be a principal at your company, but searching for principal only finds companies who share that title. You’re missing every company that simply doesn’t use that title.

Full-stack folks share the same problem as well. This is a term many devs pursue in their growth and learning but isn’t a term that is the exact equivalent in a title for companies. In fact, full-stack can be a red flag to see in a posting as it can mean doing multiple jobs at once for the pay of one. But, you might not know DevOps is another word that keeps you in the same realm of full-stack work.

Bottom-line, there are no standard titles in our industry and narrowly searching by title excludes every company that doesn’t have the same title.

Search Up and Down

One technique to get around this is to search for the title you think you want, then one that you think is a title above and a title below.

This will give you a ton of potential jobs, and many won’t be of interest to you. However, you’ll avoid missing out on a lot of possible openings based solely on title discrepancies.

Maybe another odd example will help. In the finance world, the running joke is that everyone is a vice-president. Would you ever think to search for a vice-president job after a few years of experience? You’d miss out on jobs in the finance sector if you didn’t try.

Read the Postings to Decide

Alright, how do you know if the posting is one that you should consider applying to? There is a lot I can put here, but there are only two things that I think are critical before you decide to apply.

  1. Primary skill match
  2. Years of experience

Please read my explanation on these, don’t skim. People mess this up all the time!

For primary skills, you want to look at the long list of skills in the posting and identify the ones you think are the most critical for the job. In a Front-End Job you might see React along side some other stuff like Node, Bower, Gulp, etc. React is the primary skill and the others are supporting skills. If you have the primary skill you’re good to go. You don’t have to match everything!

As for years of experience, look at what they’re asking for and subtract 5.

Years of experience trip people up, but it isn’t a hard rule, just like education isn’t one. Subtracting 5 is a helpful rule of thumb that will let you start applying for jobs and get interviews. The more senior you get, that rule for five can eventually become 10.

More Opportunities!

There you go, a quick way to find more opportunities in your next job search by recognizing there aren’t standard titles and how to decide if you’re a fit without a title to help. Good luck!