Birth of a Job Requirement - Fruitful Filter or Farcical Filler? :)


A few recent job listings were notable in contrast to each other and might be fun to talk about.

The first series of posts were from a company looking for ‘Senior,’ ‘Advanced,’ and ‘Principal’ Tech Artists.

The ‘Advanced’ and ‘Principal’ roles differed in a few domain-specific details and years of experience required (10 and 12, resp.), but otherwise contained the same text with some eyebrow-raising word choices, namely:

  • Unsurpassed understanding of the content creation pipeline …”
  • “Able to carry out the most complex tasks and produce work with an unsurpassed level of quality …”
  • “… expert with all relevant art and animation software suites. Demonstrates unsurpassed understanding …”
  • “Maintains an unparalleled understanding of existing proprietary software …”
  • Incomparable knowledge of applicable game engine and how it processes, blends and renders animations.”[sic]
  • “Develops the most complex models and systems …”
    (emphases mine)

OK, so they clearly want someone highly skilled, nothing wrong with that, but who is going to walk in there and say,
“There is no other person whose knowledge can compare to mine!”
No one résumés like Gaston!

That would be someone who is literally ‘incomparable’ or ‘unparalleled.’ I mean, that person might exist, but those words gave me a chuckle. The slightly lower bar of ‘unsurpassed’ would merely mean that while they may be equaled, nobody is better than them. The ‘Senior’ TA post had more common terms like, ‘strong,’ ‘experience with,’ ‘proficient,’ but there was stil an ‘unsurpassed’ and ‘unparalleled’ in there. That one asked for 6 years of experience.

A few weeks later, I read a listing for a ‘Senior’ TA from a different company which was striking in contrast, using words like, ‘advanced knowledge’, ‘experience’ and a few requests for ‘basic understanding.’ Most crucially, at the end of the listing they said, “This is a tall order - but we know you’re out there!” - a humble note that brought this post into sharp relief against my memory of the earlier listings.

The geneaology of a job listing will vary between studios, of course, but I can’t help but read into the difference in tone between these company’s listings and think they might hint at differences in company culture/values and what it might be like to work at each one. In this particular example, one thing I could speculate is that the level of hyperbole tracks with the relative level of ‘corporate-ness,’ shall we say, in the two companies. That’s a coarse guess based on my small knowledge of the two, and not a judgement, per-se.


Has anyone here had any notable ‘read between the lines’ experiences related to job listings or employment communication?

What, if anything, might a job listing’s wording tell you about an employer?

How does a word like ‘incomparable’ get into a listing?

While an applicant should be respectful of listed requirements and Read The Damn Ad, how much might some over-statement aid the employer (in a filtering or aspirational capacity) versus potentially hindering them?


lol. you struck a gold mine here!

unparalleled understanding of existing proprietary software

proprietary as in in-house engine? Unless they want to reverse engineer it, how does an unparalleled understanding of your previous employer’s proprietary software help them?

“Develops the most complex models and systems

Personally, I prefer people who can keep things simple. That’s much easier said than done… building complex shit that nobody understands, that has a ton of dependencies, and that nobody can maintain is not that difficult. That happens all the time.

But yeah, reading across the lines. If it’s a studio from a typical outsourcing county (Ukraine, China, India) then it’s probably some clueless HR person who wrote that ad and they just want the best person they can get, which is understandable. Those places will really need your help. Start-ups run by wanna be game devs might also fall into this category, though.

If it’s a known western studio, then they should have someone at hand to cross-check their ads. Either they aren’t organized at all or they don’t give a damn. I would expect ads from known studios to be more reasonable in tone.

In summary, do your background research. If the job ad sucks because they don’t know better, then the place might still be interesting, depending on what challenges you want to tackle in your career. If the job ad sucks and they should know better, then stay away.


Good points :slight_smile:

The aforementioned studio is a known Western ‘AAA’ studio.


Yeah, it didn’t take much effort with the googles to match those to a few job postings.


It does seem bizarre. Like, who are they kidding? Surely they know that everyone around any interview table knows that “unsurpassed” knowledge is a silly request. That said, I’d probably disregard it and concentrate almost exclusively on the years experience requirements (and even then I knock a few years off. Nothing ventured, nothing gained etc). If they actively say “Yo, we work exclusively in Maya and have a bunch of legacy Mel scripts you’ll need to maintain” then I won’t apply. If they say “You need to know literally every language from COBOL to RUST”, I won’t disregard them as a potential employer, but I pretty much will disregard their requirements. I’ll leave it up to them if they think my CV is good enough, rather than self selecting. As such, I think it’s a bad idea from their point of view to do that, but that’s their problem, not mine.

Another of my pet peeves is companies who ask for “a rockstar {}” where {} is whatever role they’re trying to fill out. A rockstar technical director, they ask, as if your day isn’t primarily spent sitting in a windowless room writing Python scripts between frantic searches on stackoverflow.


I am reminded of a story from my Bungie days – I went to one of the designers to ask about a similarly convoluted job description on the website. He said

It basically means you have to be better than me in every way without making me feel threatened.