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If IT Job Postings Said What They Meant


Finding the right job can be challenging, especially when the job postings and descriptions seem to be written in Human Resource-ese, making it difficult for mere mortals like us to really understand them.

We started to wonder what a job posting and description would look like if they used plain English, and accurately described the job. We grabbed a sample job description from our friends at for a Technical Support Specialist and put our IT translators to work.

What the job title said: Technical Support Specialist

Here’s what they actually mean:
“Technical Support” = Entry-level IT pro, looking to work your way up in the industry. Be ready. You’re going to get your hands dirty.
“Specialist” = By specialist, they sorta mean generalist. There’s a ton of stuff you absolutely have to do, but this list will only scratch the surface of what an average day will look like for you.


What the job posting said: Maximizes computer system capabilities by studying technical applications; making recommendations.

Here’s what they actually mean:
“Maximizes computer system capabilities” = You’re going to be asked to force the systems do more than they are designed to do, probably on a regular basis, maybe even exceeding some safety regulations along the way.
“Studying technical applications” = Your Google-fu should be strong because we’re going to ask you to Google a lot of problems.
“Making recommendations” = We’re going to ask you to do tons of research and make recommendations that will only be followed approximately 3 percent of the time.

Pro tip: Making recommendations often means digging into a technology and working to understand it first. Explore more than 200 courses on the technology you need in order to make meaningful recommendations.


What the job posting said: Evaluates system potential by testing compatibility of new programs with existing programs.

Here’s what they actually mean:
“Evaluates system potential” = Our system is terrible. Truly terrible. But we expect you to find the silver lining and look at it as if it actually has potential.
“Testing compatibility” = Our systems don’t integrate, like, at all. But we want you to force them to integrate and play nicely with each other and with new systems we’ll probably purchase without consulting you.


What the job posting said: Evaluates expansions or enhancements by studying workload and capacity of computer system.

Here’s what they actually mean:
“Studying workload and capacity of computer system” = We consistently overwork our systems and frequently exceed our capacity. We will blame you for these problems and provide you with little-to-no resources to actually resolve these issues.

Pro tip: Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 tends to be the server of choice throughout the industry. Study up to learn all that you can about Server 2012, or take the plunge to start learning about What’s New in Server 2016.


What the job posting said: Achieves computer system objectives by gathering pertinent data; identifying and evaluating options; recommending a course of action.

Here’s what they actually mean:
“Achieves computer system objectives” = We read that on a job description template we found online and thought it sounded cool. We don’t really know what it means.
“Gathering pertinent data” = You’ll gather data that won’t make sense to us because we don’t math well (we’re good with people though, so that makes up for it). Then, we’ll ask you for data you can’t possibly generate.

Pro tip: Take some time to train up and master databases and programming to help you generate data even your non-technical overlords can appreciate.


What the job posting said: Confirms program objectives and specifications by testing new programs; comparing programs with established standards; making modifications.

Here’s what they actually mean:
“Confirms program objectives” = We’ll expect you to blindly agree with our objectives, even when they are objectively bad ideas.
“Comparing programs with established standards” = We will expect you to have an encyclopedic knowledge of all existing programs and technical standards, including new technologies within minutes of their launches, and how our programs stack up against them. We will further expect you to help us justify the continued use of all our existing programs, even when ours are clearly inferior.
“Making modifications” = We will make unreasonable requests for fantastical changes and modifications that will, inevitably, create chain-reaction failures elsewhere in our systems, and blame you for it all. Then, we’ll ask you to change everything back to the way it was before the modifications.

Pro tip: System administration training can prepare you to meet program objectives and set you up for success, even in challenging work environments.


What the job posting said: Places hardware into production by establishing connections; entering necessary commands.

Here’s what they actually mean:
“Places hardware into production” = We’ve been stacking computery stuff up in the janitorial closet for a few years now. Your predecessor set it up with a bunch of colorful wires sticking out from under the door. So we’ll expect that you’ll just keep adding to the stack that we’ve been keeping in place with some creative and strategic use of duct tape.
“Entering necessary commands” = We just kind of assume that you’re magic like all those tech guys in movies who just randomly type gibberish on computer screens. Oh, and naturally, we expect that in your spare time you’re probably a hacker, but we don’t really know what that means outside of Hollywood.

Pro tip: Whether you’re working with Cisco, Juniper, or a hybrid of a variety of products, networking skills are critical to your success in a new job.


What the job posting said: Maximizes use of hardware and software by training users; interpreting instructions; answering questions.

Here’s what they actually mean:
“Maximizes use of hardware and software by training users” = We will expect our hardware and software to run with almost magical efficiencies, despite the fact that most of our users are still using Walkmans, Internet Explorer, and generally terrified of technology.
“Interpreting instructions” = We don’t know how to ask for what we need, so we’ll expect you to read our minds and understand our instructions when we can’t articulate them.
“Answering questions” = We are committed to asking questions with precision, such as ‘the thingy isn’t doing the stuff it usually does.’ We expect you to answer these questions with sincerity and a level of professionalism that rivals international diplomats negotiating nuclear weapons treaties.


What the job posting said: Maintains system capability by testing computer components.

Here’s what they actually mean:
“Testing computer components” = Our computers have been frankensteined together using components from a multitude of vendors, many of which could be considered museum-quality historical relics.

Pro tip: CompTIA A+ certification is excellent preparation for supporting hardware and software, and includes just a dash of networking concepts.


What the job posting said: Prepares references for users by writing operating instructions.

Here’s what they actually mean:
“Writing operating instructions” = We will expect you to spend ungodly amounts of time creating documentation and directions for users, all of which will be utterly forgotten within two days (or less) of it being completed.


What the job posting said: Maintains professional and technical knowledge by attending educational workshops; reviewing professional publications; establishing personal networks; participating in professional societies.

Here’s what they actually mean:
“Maintains professional and technical knowledge” = We are utterly terrified by what you do because we don’t understand it. We know you need to learn more stuff, but we know we can’t help you. We are really just trying to decide if you use your sorcery for good or for evil…

Pro tip: You can get a free week of training in your dark arts of IT magic and sorcery when you subscribe to CBT Nuggets.


If employers just said what they meant in their job postings and job descriptions, there’d be a lot less guesswork involved in trying to find the right job. But then again, if they were too honest, none of us might apply for the jobs in the first place!


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