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Career Services

Deciphering Job Postings


As some of us remember, jobs used to be posted in the newspaper classifieds or "want ads". Due to space limitations and cost, employers were forced to adopt creative abbreviations similar to the ones used for singles looking for dates.  In employment ad speak, DOE is the answer to the single's SOH.  While the higher character limits of online postings have made job posting language a bit closer to something the rest of us can understand, it's important to keep a few things in mind as you browse and decipher.

Deciphering the Posting
Some employers still use bizarre abbreviations even when they don't need to.  As a job seeker, you should be familiar with the following abbreviations:

  • DOE:  Depends On Experience
  • OUF:  Open Until Filled
  • PT:  Part Time (usually 30 hours or less)
  • FT:  Full Time (Usually 35 hours or more)
  • PD:  Per Diem-The exact definition of a per diem employee varies from organization to organization.  In general, someone employed on a per diem basis has a set number of hours he or she can work in a fiscal year.  Those hours may be equivalent to full-time work for a set period of time, or divided up throughout the year on a part-time schedule depending on the needs of the employer.  These positions generally do not come with benefits.

Are you qualified?
In general, if you meet 75%-80% of the stated requirements in a posting, it's probably worth applying for the position.  In the current economic climate, job seekers who do not meet 100% of the required qualifications are not likely to get a call back, but if the application process is straightforward and the job sounds interesting, it's worth a try.

The easiest way to determine whether or not you meet the stated requirements is to print the job posting and circle or highlight all of the requirements that you meet.

Who is posting the job?
You may see a lot of positions posted for "Company Confidential".  Company Confidential is the Author Unknown of job postings; you don't know what company the position is with or if the job is even with a particular company.  Whenever you see this, it usually means that a search firm or temporary agency is recruiting for the position. 

Approach these types of positions with caution.  First, do a Google search for key skills or requirements for the position to see if you can find the original posting and identify any other agencies trying to fill the same position.  If you apply for the same position through different agencies, that can result in your resume being submitted multiple times for the same position; not the best way to win favor with a potential employer.  Second, it's possible that the agency is just collecting resumes for a certain type of job.  If you're interested in contract or temporary office work, it's fine to take the opportunity to register with an agency, but if you are interested in doing that, it might be better to just call the agencies you're interested in to register.

If you find a job posting that stumps you after reading all of these tips, consider making an appointment with a Career Coach at the Science, Industry, and Business Library In addition to day time appointments, we also offer evening and weekend appointments.  Coaching appointments are free and can be booked via the online booking system.

(Top image by The Cleveland Kid, via Flickr)


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