Job Adverts – has everyone forgotten how to read???

advertsI read recently that in Finland, schools will shortly be phasing out cursive handwriting classes in favour of keyboard skills. It seems our digital age is finally catching up as officials in that country accept that texting, tapping on keyboards and tweeting have taken over as the primary means of communication.

So as a new chapter begins in our evolution and education (as it is only a matter of time before this becomes widespread) I pondered another emerging trend that is becoming increasingly apparent in my world of hospitality recruitment…

Have people forgotten how to read??!!

I pose this question in relation to one specific issue, that of job adverts, listing, postings or whatever we chose to call them.

Now for many, many reasons job adverts can be pretty vague, which I’m sure is a source of frustration to some people. There are of course many reasons for this, from legal & ethical matters (such as avoiding sexism, ageism, racial discrimination – even when some clients have no hesitation in actually discriminating on these grounds) to other simpler factors such as “casting a wide net” – particularly true when your client is vague and uncertain of what they seek in a candidate.

In the majority of cases however there are certain key criteria, the “must haves” or mandatory factors, characteristics or experience that need to be fulfilled in order to be considered for the position. These “must have” items are generally the first stop in the elimination game we know as recruitment and candidate selection.

For example, as a global hospitality recruiter one common pre-requisite from clients is for candidates to have experience in their region of operation. When recruiting an Executive Chef for a luxury hotel in China, many clients consider it mandatory for candidates to have previous experience working in the country. A good chef can work in any kitchen one would think, but if he does not understand the culture, customs or working practices in the market then a Pandora’s box of potential problems and issues can arise. So requiring this prior knowledge is really a risk minimisation and cost saving strategy – otherwise the employer can spend precious time and money trying to educate and train the employee, sometimes without success.

That all seems intelligent, logical and clear so then why do countless applicants without these mandatory skills or experience still apply for the job?

Are they desperate or can they just not read!!

Why would a candidate waste their time and energy applying for roles where they clearly do not match the criteria set down? In many cases we now put this down to an inability or unwillingness to fully read the text in the job listing…

So why is this the case?

The other day I gave my teenage son an article that I thought may be of interest to him. I checked back a short time later to see what he thought and asked how it was?

“Oh I started it but haven’t read it all” came the response.

“Why not?” I enquired.

“Oh, too many words…”

So there you have it, it’s official. The reason there are so many people not reading job adverts is that there are too many words!

The digital age and the internet have completely changed the world, we all understand that, but has it changed the way people interact with the written word?

Every day we are bombarded with volumes of information that only a few short years ago would have taken weeks or months to absorb. As such we have all become experts at “scanning” rather than reading. We scan a few lines from a passage of text and think we understand its meaning and then act accordingly.

So is it that candidates don’t read the full text of an advert, just a couple of lines? A candidate thinks they understand the requirements, but in reality have failed to fully comprehend the requirements as they just did not read it all.

I think however, to blame technology or evolution on this lack of attention to detail is far too generous. The reality is often people are too lazy to read the advert fully, have too high an opinion of their skills and abilities, and we probably make it too easy for them to apply for the job without thinking and taking the time to provide an application addressing the criteria and position.

So when you next wonder why you are not getting that dream job, or you appear to be constantly rejected, don’t blame the world, or the recruiter or feel sorry for yourself – it might just be that you haven’t read the advert. Although if you have got this far reading the article I am probably preaching to the converted – as there are not too many words in this article for you! 🙂

About the Author

rsz_tim_johns_cc1Tim Johns is a former Hotelier and Managing Partner with Elite Search – a leading hospitality recruitment firm. For more information about Tim and Elite Search visit and The Elite Hotelier

One comment

  1. […] Job adverts – has everyone forgotten how to read??? […]


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