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  • The Purple Cow Job Description – Should I Apply?

    Finding A Job photo from ShutterstockPurple Cow Job Description?

    I guarantee you have read a purple cow job description. It’s one of those that, when you finished reading it, you said to yourself:

    I am not qualified for this job but… is anyone?

    They are looking for the purple cow. The ideal candidate does not exist!

    I am going out on a limb to say that most job descriptions are badly written.

    In my last corporate job, I had an open position to fill. I had to write a job description.

    Did I know how to write a description? NO!

    I went onto Indeed.com and searched for openings with the same job title. When I found one I liked, I copied it!

    I was expanding my team for a training and certification program. I wanted a technical trainer who was familiar with the program and was already certified. We had certified less than a thousand people worldwide.

    The candidate needed to have five years of technical training experience.

    I wanted someone who was already located in Austin, Texas.

    The odds of finding someone who was certified in the topic, had five years experience as a technical trainer, AND lived in Austin was close to ZERO!

    I was looking for the Purple Cow!

    Did I write the job description saying I wanted everything? YES!

    Dissecting the Job Description

    We will want to look at:

    • High level job description
    • Responsibilities
    • Requirements/Qualifications
    • Education

    High Level Job Description

    Can you honestly see yourself with this title? One of the problems with high level job descriptions is they have become so vague. Do not write yourself off even if it does not look like a fit just yet.


    Read through this section carefully. Have you actually performed more than half of the responsibilities described?


    Check out each item in the requirements/qualifications section of the job description:

    • How many of the requirements/qualifications do you have? Make sure you meet at least half of the requirements/qualifications.
    • Do you have equivalent requirements/qualifications? Do you have existing skills that you can map to what is in the job description? How long would it take, given your current experience, to attain what is needed?


    • Do you have all of the required educational credentials?
    • Do you have the preferred educational credentials?
    • Do you have experience that can be substituted for any of the credentials?

    One way to get around having all of the educational credentials is to put in your resume a statement like the following:

    20 years of experience in xxxxxx…in lieu of an MBA.

    This will often get you past the applicant tracking systems and at least get you a phone interview for you to prove your worth.

    Do Not Be Afraid of the Purple Cow

    Lastly, if you are following a targeted job search  strategy, you will have an internal contact within the company. Ask your contact to find out what the hiring manager is really looking for!

    Marc MillerCareer Pivot

    Check out my book Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

    Do not forget to follow me on Twitter or FaceBook

    Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers published in January 2013, which has been featured on Forbes.com, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Career Pivot was selected for the Forbes Top 100 Websites for your Career. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at two successful Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit. Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.

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