7 Software Engineering Job Descriptions Analyzed

7 Software Engineering Job Descriptions Analyzed
Post Author: Aaron Decker | Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash
Date published: November 22, 2019

As a software engineer looking at software engineering job descriptions I am frequently amazed at how vague and confusing some of them are. It's almost as if they are written by someone who has never been an engineer.

When I am looking at a job I want to know these basics first:

  1. Location
  2. Job type and title (e.g. Full Time Backend Engineer OR Contract UI Developer)
  3. Approximate pay range.

Often people don't advertise pay. Yeah it's annoying but I get that reasoning from a business perspective. If they don't say I'm just going to look at Glassdoor so I don't waste my time.

Once I know those things and they pass my filter, I want to know these things:

  1. What is the project
  2. What is your tech stack
  3. What do you need me to do

That's pretty much it, yet many job descriptions fail to even deliver on these absolute basics. So for fun I went around screenshotting a ton of job descriptions to see if they have enough information to get me interested.

One Caveat

By the way these are all publicly available on the internet and none of this information is secret. I'm not going to censor any information but I'm also not going to be overly critical so I don't catch any flak. I'll just say if it's a good enough job description and if I would apply for it or not.

Example Job Descriptions

We'll start of with on from Apple:

apple jod 1

It's good. They don't explain the tech stack but I can figure out it's a Java job building web services.

Ok here is one called "Open Source Software Engineer - Node.js" for DataDog.

datadog 2

It's OK, but there is very little information about what they want other than somebody that is good at Node.js, though I do kind-of like how brief it is. They did explain they needed a node dev to work on "tracing tools". I might apply for this.

Next is a company called Hustle that I found on a Hacker News "Who's Hiring" thread.

hustle1 hustle2

This is fairly clear: they are looking for a Node developer to help write some APIs. I'd say it's good and I would apply for it.

Next I have another company called Atomic Object from the same "Who's Hiring Thread"

atomic-1 atomic-2

To me this was long and confusing. I have no indication of what they do or what tech they are using. Is it PHP? They don't say. I can't tell if this is a manager or developer role. To me this was not something I would apply for because I don't really understand what they want.

Next, here is a job description from Target.


This one has no information about the tech stack, but at least they do describe the project. Maybe they want me to write Cobol? Who knows. Interestingly they put in a line that would scare me away from applying immediately: "Job duties may change at any time due to business needs". I would not apply to this job, there is too little relevant information.

This is from a company called Alto.

alto-1 alto-2

I think there were some cool aspects to this JD (I liked the "Within your 1st month" part), but I thought the tech part was overly vague. I probably wouldn't apply because I don't understand what tech stack they are using and I don't want to end up interviewing for a Ruby job. They gave me example projects but didn't really tell me what project they wanted somebody for.

Last I'll do a company called Big Know, I took this from a local job board called Tech.mn.

big know 1 big know 2

I understand exactly what they do, who they want, what the tech stack is, and what the project is. If I was a Ruby developer and looking for this kind of thing it would be easy to understand what they want and apply.


As you can see, the job descriptions are all over the map. Some fail to even explain basic information for engineering roles, such as the technology being used.

Others go above and beyond and have interesting additional information that catches my eye. Some of the job descriptions spend a lot of time pitching the company to me, which I honestly don't really care that much about. I'm looking for a job, not an investment.

I think if you at least cover these key points you have a decent shot at attracting attention from the people you want:

  1. What is the project
  2. What is your tech stack
  3. What do you need me to do

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Written By Aaron Decker

I'm currently a co-founder and head of engineering at a venture backed startup called Bounty. I tend to think of myself as a backend engineer that can work up and down the stack in Typescript. Previously, I have worked as a Tech Lead and hired teams, and as a Senior Software Engineer at multiple fortune 500 companies building large products. I also did a brief stint teaching programming courses as an Adjunct Instructor at a local community college, which taught me a lot about breaking down complex things into understandable chunks.