Career AdviceThe Needle in the Haystack: What Makes a Great Job Description for Entry-Level Jobs?
writes on April 11, 2022

There’s only so much information you can get from reading a job description. They’re often cryptic and don’t give you the full picture of the company and the team. 

Describing your company culture and work environment is difficult with just a few words on a page. Hiring managers don’t want to bore you with reams of unnecessary information in a job description, and they want to persuade you to join the company. 

The job description might be the first thing you ever see about that company, so they want to make a good impression. 

You want to apply for jobs that you’ll love and that you’re a good fit for, so you need to learn how to decipher job descriptions to find the right opportunities for you.

Here are Haystack’s top 5 things to look for when you’re applying for tech jobs.

The Company Overview

Each company has its own internal jargon, but this shouldn’t be iterated on job descriptions. Job descriptions should be clear and concise – free of unnecessary information.

Even if a company is well-known, you should expect to see an overview of what the company actually does. Software companies can be particularly guilty of this, by using buzzwords and mission statements rather than the real value-add of the business.

After reading the job description, you shouldn’t be confused as to what the company actually does – and even why it does it.

Explanation of Responsibilities 

Responsibilities, yes. Unnecessary lists of each daily task, no.

As a potential candidate, you want to see the responsibilities of the role, and make sure the scope of the job matches the salary and the title. 

For an entry-level position, you should look to work for big teams that have clear leadership structure. You should be able to identify who your manager is and the part of the product you’re working on.

You should have room to grow and develop in the role and this should be reflected through the responsibilities.

Requirements for Qualifications

Looking for your first job in tech can be incredibly frustrating. Often, you’ll find companies advertising roles as entry-level, you read the entire description, then at the bottom, it states that it requires 2+ years of experience. Entry-level should require no years of experience!

Make sure you lookout for this because the description should match the level of responsibilities, and also the salary if stated.

Tech-specific job boards like Treehouse jobs and Haystack know this – and clearly state the level of responsibility required for jobs.

Salary Transparency

Some companies will provide a salary range on job descriptions, some won’t mention it, and some may just state “competitive” – it depends on their internal policies.

According to Haystack’s data, companies with between 251 and 500 employees are the most likely to share salary information. Haystack’s data says about 37.5% of companies in this range will share salary information in the job description. Larger companies are much less likely to share salary information publicly, only 17.6% of companies with 1,001-10,000 employees will list salary ranges in the job description.

This is something you can discuss with the hiring manager at the early stages of an interview process to ensure the salary aligns with your expectations. If they are unwilling to discuss it, this is a red flag. Don’t waste your time applying and interviewing if they are offering less than the minimum salary you’d expect.

Hiring Managers/Team Details

This isn’t a must, but it’s always good to know the kind of team you’re working with. Working in a company with an engineering team of 5 compared to 50 makes a big difference to the culture and expectations on you as an individual.

If it’s clear who you will be reporting to – check them out online and see what their background is. If you decide to apply, it’s always a great question to ask whoever is hiring you what they love about the company, and how they see your role fitting into the existing team.

Finally – go with your gut! If you get a good vibe from a company from their job descriptions, website, and social media presence – then go for it. Any application and technical interviews you go through are all useful experiences for you in your career.

Remember – your probationary period of a job is just as much for them to see if you’re a good fit as it is for you to see if they’re a good fit for you!

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