IT Employment

Are job requirements really negotiable?

Before you click Send on that resume, are you sure you're really qualified for the job you're applying for?

Before you click Send on that resume, are you sure you're really qualified for the job you're applying for?

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I wrote a blog last week about a strange job description encountered by one of our members. It was for an IT position but required knowledge of geometry and trigonometry.

In the discussion that followed the piece, lots of people expressed their dismay at some of the unreasonable demands they've seen in job descriptions. A couple of people said it was because the hiring manager is shooting for the moon because he knows he won't be getting what he's asking for, but he might get something close.

I think this is a dangerous practice. I once saw a job description at a place at which I already worked and didn't apply for because of a few very pointed requirements. After the position was filled, a couple of people in upper management expressed surprise that I hadn't applied. When I told them why, they said, "That was just a preference not a requirement." I still don't know if that was true, or if they knew what they were doing all along but just acted surprised to hide their ulterior motives to get the guy they really wanted. Sounds cynical, I know, but I've been around for a while and have seen things like this happen.

But let's flip sides for a minute. There have been times when, as a hiring manager, I have posted a job description in which I was very clear about minimum requirements, only to get resumes from people who were in no way qualified. Now that's frustrating.

I don't know if this happens because people actually think I really don't know what I'm looking for in an employee (which is insulting in and of itself), if they mistakenly believe on some level that they possess the skills I'm looking for, or if they're throwing their resumes out there at every job description they see in the hopes of finally hitting gold. None of these reasons are good.

First of all, don't disregard the requirements of a job description because you think the manager probably doesn't know his or her own mind. That doesn't go over so well.

Second, try to be as objective as you can when reviewing your own qualifications and how they match up. You may think that your six months on the help desk is solid proof that you'll be a natural for maintaining a network, but is that really true? Really?

Third, I know the job search is frustrating, and it's tempting to take the lottery approach but believe me when I say, hiring managers can ferret through those types of resumes pretty quickly.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

140 comments
.Martin.
.Martin.

but what happens when you are trying to get into the workforce for the first time? I remember having a lot of difficulty finding a first job, as everyone wants experience.

wrlang
wrlang

The standard for job descriptions is that the most important qualifications are first on the list and everything that is not required is listed as preferred. Really simple job description 101 stuff. If you're applying for a hotel manager position and they list trigonometry on the list of qualifications, RUN AWAY because they are clueless. I've seen many companies try and cut costs by combining two jobs into one. It is usually pretty obvious. If you qualify for one, then apply. Soon they'll catch on that they won't find a person for their waitress/heart surgeon position and they'll need to decide which they really want, the waitress or the heart surgeon. But you know there just may be an electrical engineer out there that does some sewing on the side so why not create a single job description for both? LOL Format your resume as if it were a response to the jobs description, matching your qualifications to the ones in the job description. Example, if project management is top on the list for the job, then your project management qualifications should be first on the resume.

dba88
dba88

First of all, it's a little dishonest to misrepresent the job description to something that it's not! It's hard enough finding employment without the employer wasting your time and effort toward replying to a job with false or inflated requirements and prerequisites. Given all the competition you need to push your resume forward. People embellish and inflate to do just that. Employers want good candidates, but it's also a sales job! As a candidate, you need to do what you can to get your resume in front of the right people. Here's just one of the problems though (yes... there are others). The receivers of the resume are usually the recruiter who is clueless about the position and has to go back to the source for more info, or the HR person who is doubly clueless, et al. Having these people perform resume fit screens is not only a waste of the candidates time and energy, but it is also insulting. This brings me to another major complaint; the time it takes between the recruiter / HR / employers receipt of the resume, to taking the candidate through the whole cycle. It is absolutely rude and bull sh-t that a candidate has to wait weeks or months to get any kind of response!! More often than not these people don't have the courtesy to let the candidate know what's going on! I do realize the recruiter or HR representative probably doesn't know either, but damned rude and a terrible reflection on being human! The candidates have families, house and car payments, food to put on the table for their children, etc., to be put through a giany waiting game!! C'mon employment lawyers... think of something... help us!! Stop this abuse! Back to the point of the artical. In this time of layoffs, bad economy, firings, super competition, and above all, the added stress and pressure of offshoring, do what you have to do!! After what I've seen and heard over the last month, with the lying and cheating from some of Americas largest and (supposedly) most respected firms, especially from senior managers, laughing all the way to the bank, whilst many of us are struggling to make ends meet... well, I think you get the point. There are a lot of changes that need to be made, starting with a little humanism (and in the most basic human courtesy)! However, you should also be confident that you'll be able to do the work asked for in the job description to a reasonable degree.

ed.hanson
ed.hanson

Best career advice I have very got, was if looking for a job and you only meet 3 of 5 requirement apply. Because if you meet all 5 within 6 months you will be going crazy with boredom. If you meet 3 of the 5 and are hired everyone wins.

J.D. Keith
J.D. Keith

Toni, Isn't this a great one to take a second pass at? Why not look all of these over and see if you still hold the same position or if you can brook some of these arguments to soften your position toward those of us who don't fit a pre-defined mold. I think the best candidates I have ever interviewed are the ones I don't think have the complete skill set for the job yet, but can (and are willing) to be trained into it.

mosheb
mosheb

Job requirements are a serious problem in today's market. It changed dramatically and took a turn for the worse in the last decade. What I found as both job applicant and hiring manager is: 1) In the past, the requirement list was basically a wish list open to negotiations. It's not so anymore! Today's employers are dead serious about these long lists which is sad, mainly for HR departments which work under great pressure to provide personnel that is not to be found. 2) When compiling requirement lists, managers sit around the table and each one adds more and more requirements just "to be on the safe side". Some of these managers are not technically oriented (like VP of finance influencing requirements for a C++ programmer position). The final list is sometimes comical. 3) Managements are also not realistic on what is available. Even if potential employees are qualified for the position, they will most likely be busy, employed and in great demand. Chances to attract these stellar performers to your firm are slim. 4) Some job seekers send thousands of applications, all identical, to every open position, even there is not even 30% match. They think that they improve their chances, by blasting employers, but in reality they just clog the communication channels and make things worse for all.

shams_dos
shams_dos

I once resigned from a position and because they wanted to fill the position before i leave so as to help bring the new employee to speed. When I saw the job description of the advertised position, believe me I would not have applied for the Job, 'cos this look more than the Job I can do. It was just a rediculous requirement. But I will end this piece with what my friend always say.." If I fit the job description 100% why Apply.. 'cos I sure will not learn or add to my skill in the Job... Best to apply for a job that fit you 50% and you learn the remain 50% on the job... don't forget to consider if the take home pay can take you home..."

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

IF you don't lay it out you may get stuck with a job you DON'T want.

cory4times
cory4times

What about the old adage, "fake it 'till you make it?" I've seen it work out so many times.

Lateralnetworking(TM)
Lateralnetworking(TM)

If a candidate has no hope of getting the job then that is the HR's / interview process that will decide, not the candidate, regardless of what is written in the job description. If your a specialist then the job will be negotiable, but if your a help desk type person you will find there are hundreds of others who will take what they can get and Management know this.

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

No, I don't THINK that the qualifications and requirements are sometimes exaggerated or made up to fit an ideal candidate but are sometimes negotiable. I KNOW this is the case, quite regularly. Been on the hiring end of things for numerous years. Since I retired from the military back in 1991. And have worked for both simple companies and a major corporation which employed over 150,000 personnel. Doing such was and is routine. In fact, I'd say that based on my experience non-negotiable qualifications and prerequisites is the exception as versus the rule. For instance, in the field I am now in, if we were to advertise for exactly the "best fit" for a job opening, listing those specific requirements of education, experience and skills needed, no negotiation allowed ... we'd be hard up to fill the position. Might only get 1 or 2 applicants, or none. And we don't like having only one or two applicants. That limits your choices. Applicant might fill your list perfectly ... but be of a personality type that simply wouldn't fit in with the rest of our team/company. Or you might detect undesirable personal habits or traits. Or whatever. Also, some folks have all their ducks in a row as concerns education, past job assignments, certs, whatever. But still might make less than desirable future employees. i.e. I can think of one fat head who was so full of himself as to be intolerable to work with. HIS way, was always the best way, just ask him. The guy was a good talker. Talked his way in. (and his credentials did look OUTSTANDING ... on paper) I was outvoted by the selection committee. Turned out that while he was a big fish in the pond back where he came from ... it must have been a little pond. At best, in our world, he was mediocre in real performance. In any event, we finally booted him. Relaxed our "standards", got a wider range of applicants. And finally picked one who met most but not all of the prerequisites. However, this guy had a history of being flexible and having successfully tackled a position where he'd had to learn new material fast. AND he didn't presume he already knew everything, even in those areas in which he was obviously very knowledgeable. And stated he wanted to learn OUR way of doing things first, then if he could see possible beneficial changes that could be made, he'd suggest them and run them by everyone to see what we thought. I shook his hand and welcomed him aboard. He's still with us and doing very well.

C
C

I feel that often job requirements are written by HR people who don't really understand what they're looking for. To insure they eventually find what they want, they try to cast a wide net. I have been flabbergasted to see multi-paragraph requirements that are little more than comma-delimited lists of technologies sometimes spanning more than a decade. With all the movement in the field, who can afford to keep up on obsolete technologies? I think these kinds of job postings are counter-productive. I never respond to them, or to the ones that don't give a salary range. I have no time for companies that can't articulate what they need; or aren't willing to give me some indication what they expect to pay for the services they are asking for. Am I way out of line here?

Persepone
Persepone

My experience as a technical writer is that job requirements must be negotiable. In my working life I???ve never seen a list of job requirements that one person would meet exactly. There are just too many possible combinations out there. First, how accurate the ???job requirements??? are varies widely. Some managers are able to think these through and write them well. Others aren???t. An applicant has no way to judge that. If I am unemployed, I must send out resumes, so I always end up sending out resumes to jobs where I don???t meet the requirements exactly. I do not apply to positions unless I am sure that I have the qualifications to perform the advertised job???as I understand it from the listing--well. After all, I need good references for my next job. I have excellent writing skills, work well with subject matter experts, learn new technologies quickly, and I???m flexible, and get the job done on time and within budget. When I first began a career as a technical writer, the question was whether the company really wanted ???technical??? expertise or a ???writer.??? If an employer needed or wanted a degreed engineer, then I was not the right candidate, since I was a ???writer.??? I sent a resume to find out. Those who really needed a ???degreed engineer??? immediately ascertained from my resume that my degree did not meet their requirements. Those who needed a ???writer??? with enough technical background to work with their engineers called me in for an interview. Those who hired me were happy with the results. In 2008 the question is whether a technical writer is a ???writer??? or some type of expert user of some specific combination of software. I actually worked at a company where someone had the title ???technical writer??? but did no writing at all! His job was what I would describe as ???web master.??? He formatted documents that others wrote and put them on the company intranet. He had no knowledge about the content of any of the documents that passed through his hands. He did not even read them! Amazing! Frightening! Technical writing job requirements today typically specify software not only by name, but by version. Thus, they specify not just RoboHelp, but RoboHelp 6 or RoboHelp 7. There may be a list of 8-15 different pieces of software with specific levels/versions for each. You???d think that the ???mix and match??? would allow different levels???but no. If it is not an exact match, some employers are just not interested. I recently had someone tell me that they needed someone with n years??? work experience with WordPerfect. Now, I have owned and used WordPerfect since DOS days. I use it at home but have not recently used it at work because all the places I???ve worked use MS Word. I did one free lance job two years ago in WordPerfect. ???Not good enough.??? Similarly, one company actually brought me in for an interview. The sticking point there was that I had not taken a course called ???Technical Writing.??? I actually taught the Technical Writing course at a community college that was part of the state university system. ???Teaching the course does not count,??? the interviewer informed me. ???You need to provide us with the grade you received when you took the course.??? Today when I send out my resume, I am resigned to the fact that there is no way that I will ever meet the specific requirements managers put together for ???technical writers.??? I???m still a ???writer.??? I write about ???technical??? subjects. I write user guides, installation manuals, service manuals, programming manuals, process, procedures, help files and so forth. I do have enough technical expertise in the fields I write about so that by the time my documentation is completed, I have learned enough so that I can actually perform the procedures that I write about. Yes, I can install and program and troubleshoot the telephone system. Yes I can actually connect all the components for a central office correctly as shown in my drawings. Yes, I can perform the processes described in my documents. I can do this in very tight timeframes. So, yes, I can quickly learn to use the tools that your company provides to produce the documentation???on paper or on-line. Interview questions about whether I ???prefer??? to use Microsoft Word or Word Perfect are silly. I use whichever one you have. If you have something else, I???ll use that. Have I n number of years??? experience using your specific combination of software? No. Do you? Do you define your value as a manager, as an engineer, etc. based on the tools that you use? Probably not. For a technical writer, the software used to create the documents is only a tool used to perform the tasks of technical writing. What matters when you take your driver???s test is not whether you drive a Ford or a Toyota, but whether you know the rules of the road, whether you can parallel park, do a three-point turn, use turn signals correctly, and so forth. These skills do not change from make of car to make of car. When you change makes of cars, how long does it take you to learn how to drive the new car? Yes, there is a ???learning curve.??? You may have to sit in the rental for a couple of minutes and check for the location of some of the controls. If you drive a standard shift car and find yourself driving a rental, you do reach for the clutch a few times. Would you refuse to hire a plumber because he installed a different brand of bathroom fixtures in the last house he built? Today, job requirements for ???technical writers??? often do not specify whether the job requires actual ???writing??? skills or whether the manager is looking for someone to format documents. So yes, I send out my resume in response to your advertised positions for a ???technical writer.??? Do you want someone to sit down with your engineers, programmers or other subject matter experts or perhaps with drawings, schematics, or your ???sandbox??? software and write documentation? Does it matter to you whether your ???technical writer??? can understand the technology and concepts that you need conveyed to your specific audience and explain them to that audience in easy-to-read Standard English prose? Do you need your technical writer to work with your experts to get this information in a minimum amount of time, and create accurate, readable documentation on time and within budget? Do you require your writer to match your company???s ???look and feel???? Do you need a writer who pays attention not only to technical detail, but to style, grammar, spelling, and the other aspects of good technical English? Part of this definition of ???technical writer??? includes, of course, providing the documentation in the format you need and to that extent, the tools they use are important, but that is a small part of the job. If, on the other hand, you define ???technical writer??? as someone who formats the writing of other people and posts it on the web, or perhaps an intranet, knowledge base or in a document repository, then you are looking for a very different type of ???technical writer.??? That???s not me. You???d save us both a lot of time if you specified this in your job requirements. Based on the job requirements that I see posted for ???technical writer,??? I would think that there was no longer any need for ???writing??? skills at all. Frequently the job requirements do not mention any credentials related to the ability to write in English. There are no requirements for understanding the subject technology. Usually the ???requirements??? focus on the tools. Therefore I continue to send my resume out in response to ???technical writer??? advertisements where I do not meet all of the requirements for specific software tools. When I send out my resume to a position where I don???t possess all the skills listed, I???m actually saying that I do possess the ???core skills??? for the position described and asking whether any of the skills listed are ???negotiable.??? I???m very clear on my resume and in cover letters about any discrepancies. Have I used RoboHelp 7? No. Have I used previous versions of RoboHelp? Yes. I apply for the job because I do believe that ???on some level I possess the skills you require??? If I am ???mistaken,??? then use the delete key on your PC. I suspect, however, that the problem with ???job requirements??? is not limited to ???technical writers.??? The truth is that every job is unique and different employees bring different life experiences and different skill sets to a given job and that is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are ???insulted??? by my applying for the job you have advertised when I do not meet your exact requirements, however, I apologize for offending you, but the truth is that I probably don???t want to work for you either. I have to wonder whether you had all the skills and knowledge and insight that you have now when you first went to work at your present job. .Did you take your own unique skills and talents and perspective to your job? The pay rate is not a good indicator of what the company is looking for, although you might expect it to be. Both ???types??? of technical writers are valuable to a company. It would be nice, however, if the managers who wrote the job requirements documents would differentiate between the two.

don.saracco
don.saracco

Of course they are. It is a marketplace just like any other. The problem is that position descriptions and so-called competencies have little to do with what is actually wanted in the job. It would make more sense to create a performance plan and then advertise that. Trying to make decisions about capability and character without solid empirical data is a fool's errand. If we who think we can see the future are right, the contract to hire model is going to see a great deal more popularity as employers come to realize that dating needs to come before marriage. Today's recruitment and selection processes are much more like arranged marriages where there is tremendous blindness on both sides about the truths that matter. Get some experience with each other and then a decision can be made. We must learn to plan more and commit less -- until we have valid and reliable empirical evidence.

chas_2
chas_2

The excellent job search and career-changing guide "What Color Is Your Parachute?" by Richard Nelson Bolles bears out a lot of what I've read in these comments, and that's to go ahead and apply for the position. Who knows what may happen? As a matter of fact, he goes even further, suggesting you go after a company you want to work for even if they don't have ANY positions publicly posted. A couple of posts mentioned the value of using personal contacts to get interviews and that's also mentioned in the book. I personally think it's a good idea conceptually to apply for positions for which your skills match at least half of the "requirements" list, but I have to admit I find most of these requirements lists very intimidating. I have heard that requirements lists are iron-clad but after reading many of the anecdotal stories here, I'm less inclined to believe that now. It would be too discouraging to believe that all requirements lists are accurate with what's being sought. If any of you have never read "Parachute", I highly recommend it. It's a wonderfully written book with practical advice and a friendly tone. The book has been around since 1972 and is updated annually.

eabower
eabower

I find that, given basic qualifications, managers hire people they want to work with over who is best qualified in most cases, even when the person they want to work with isn't more than 80% of what they think they want. I've been on too many interviews and in too many contract negotiations where people shoot for the moon, aren't clear in their own mind who/what they want, or are more flexible than what the requirements seem to state in the posting. If you're getting frustrated by people applying to your postings that aren't who you expect, I respectfully suggest that if you actually post real, firm requirements, you are an outlier on the Bell Curve and need to relax for your own health.

GEVernon
GEVernon

You don't know if the requirements were written by the Hiring Manager or if by a third party recruiter. I have seen requirements for the same job on job boards listed by different recruiters for the same position that list different requirements. It depends on how well the recruiter interpreted what their client told them. Most recruiters are not familiar with the job function and only list words they hear when talking to the hiring manager or sometimes to someone else who had talked to the hiring manager. So it frustrating from both sides especially for the person looking for work as they are not getting an income.

delphiniumeve
delphiniumeve

In my experience, yes. The managers/hr write a description that may not even exist in one person, but they try to get close. Usually there may be 3 or 4 items that are not negotiable out of 12 qualifications. I cannot tell you how often that has been my experience because I have simply lost count.

fidlrjiffy
fidlrjiffy

It's clear that a great many people have experienced this issue and that there is agreement that the requirements in job descriptions are very often unrealistic. My own experience bears this out. I've had recruiters tell me that in a buyers market companies throw everything they might possibly want and will stick to it for months without hiring anyone. Recruiters are just as frustrated as job seekers with this. The question that has puzzled me is why companies do this. I can only offer my thoughts and also mention that all companies are different so your mileage may vary. One obvious reason is that companies have already identified an internal candidate and the job description matches that person. It's often stated that companies "have to post the job" but I just don't understand why that is the case. It's just a waste of time. Another reason is that companies make up the job description based on the person who vacated the job, essentially saying that they want that person's twin. Companies will reject the first wave of resumes they get, maybe interview a few people and reject them, and eventually leave the job unfilled, fill it internally, or repost the job later. My answer to the question of are the requirements negotiable is no, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't apply if you believe that you are qualified to do the job. Heck, even if you meet 100% of the necessary and preferred requirements chances are you'll never get a callback; half the time your resume will end up forgotten on some HR person's desk. You also get a sense of what requirements are absolute and what are preferences. If the description is for a .NET developer and you've done only Cobol then don't bother. If they ask for an Oracle developer and you've done only SQL Server go for it but be aware that any Oracle folks will be ahead of you. It's a crapshoot and these days you have no idea of what's going to fly.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Toni, After reading the first few posts here in response to your post, I feel it is safe to say that you now realize that these issues reside almost solely with the poorly crafted job descriptions and wildly optimistic expectations (both in skills, experience and education *and* in acceptable salary) that most hiring managers seem to have. So the next time you're looking for a worker with a PhD in advanced information sciences, with 20+ years experience in Linux, Unix, Win32 and Netware environments, with advanced PERL scripting skills, the ability to design and deploy world class interactive Web 2.0 projects with custom reporting and applications designed in Java, C++ and Fortran, experience in project lifecycle management, with experience in HIPAA regulation compliance BKMs and hands on experience with deploying world class clustered eBusiness solutions leveraging SAN technology for Web, SQL and Distribution and Queing components, experiencing troubleshooting advanced networking issues, - requirements - CCNE, CCNA, MCSE+I W2k8, BS in IS, A+, Legato/EMC San Acadamey Certification, with operations management experience in healthcare, robotics, and video production design, willing to work for $15.95 an hour... Duties will include extensive desktop support of our 40 Windows 95 workstations and printers and maintainence of our extensive Excel based ticketing system... Don't be surprised when a guy working on his MCP who works at Geek-Squad shows up in your resume pile claiming that he has a lot of relevent experience for the position... Exaggeration? Just barely. "don???t know if this happens because people actually think I really don???t know what I???m looking for in an employee (which is insulting in and of itself)" Do you... REALLY?!? Or do your job descriptions sound like you want a lead networking engineer when you really want a security specialist? Or a SQL Developer when you really want a DBA? Or a system engineer when you really want a desktop support guy? Because the bullshit YOU have to deal with as a "hiring manager" is directly related to the bullshit "hiring managers" publish so rampantly in this industry when they're looking to fill positions. In large corporations, there can also be a HUGE disconnect between what HR publishes for a job req and for what the department manager actually WANTS. This can be political. For example, I, with a solid system engineering and support and high availability background and NO relational DB experience was hired by Intel to fill a req. for a SQL DBA position. I did a 3 year stint at Intel in this position, my title with System Engineer/Integrator, but the req. was always a SQL DBA. I dealt with SQL on occasion, but it certainly wasn't the focus of my job. Smaller companies, on the other hand, often simply don't understand the specialization of the industry and think that the same guy who designs their DB schema should also be replacing fried modem cards on their desktop and notebook PCs and setting the clock on the VCR in the boardroom - for about 2/3rds or less of the standard industry salary for an entry level desktop support position.

jodyharris5016
jodyharris5016

It has been my experience that often the HR department writes the job requirements and that in some or many cases they do not have a clue about technical skills. This is not true in large organizations but is often true in medium and small organizations. Some companies only have one IT person and if they leave there is no one to write the requirements which usually leaves the HR person who may only be a part time HR person and a full time CFO with no technical knowledge at all. My preference would be to only apply for positions that I meet the requirements but in todays job market I confess that I will blast everyone and see which resume sticks when I get desperate and these are desperate times. I am currently employed and do not intend to blast anyone today.

dpanzer
dpanzer

Hiring parties should simply post "minimum requirements" and "desired skills." People will understand that they shouldn't apply if they don't have the minimum and the ones with more of the desired skills will flaunt them. Of course, many people looking to hire think that the ad alone will weed out all of the undesirables and present them one goldenchild. Sorry...you're going to have to do some work. Oh gosh!

elgenubi
elgenubi

I remember that requirement I saw a few years ago asking for 5 years of experience on a product wich had been on the market for about 2 years.... I wonder if that would be negociable...

smithtx
smithtx

Very appropriate post, Toni. I too have been on both sides, having been the one responsible for posting the job description (I was a recruiter, but still the hiring manager), and as the job-hunter. It's been my experience that hiring managers consistently fail to put in an adequate investment of their time to ensure that the job description accurately reflects their needs. This is no small problem - it's rampant and aided by recruiters who, drowning in a sea of open positions for which they are recruiting, pass along the manager's job description with nary an overview. Conversely, every day, by the hundreds of thousands, job-hunters apply for jobs for which they clearly do not meet the minimum requirements. This too is rampant and, as an example, I promise that it will happen to me at least 10 times today. We've got to find some middle ground here. Somebody has to take first steps toward excellence in job search and I'm calling out the.....RECRUITERS. Recruiters: take the high road - differentiate yourselves. Don't allow a hiring manager to put out a half-a** job description just because he/she is in a hurry. Meet with them - discuss the requirements - the times are changing - the marketplace is changing - maybe too are their needs for employees. Do this consistently so that job-hunters can begin to have confidence in what they see coming out of your organization so they can "apply with confidence," knowing that your company "walks the talk" when it comes to recruiting.

wownixy
wownixy

The flip side of this for me is, I see lots of job postings where they want things like - AD/UNIX/MAC/Linux/SQL/Exchange/VB/Powershell/Cluster/SAN/SCOM/SCCM/Citrix/VMWare/...etc..etc... (and me as a tech) I have taken a few of these jobs or interviewed for some - and 9 times out of ten you get there and they really need someone that???s heard of these but really they want a Citrix guy... I have been a hiring Tech in the past have put requests out like this but set the actual requirements, thus getting Looking for Active Directory guru: Requirements: Windows 2000/2003/2008 Server EXP Active Directory migration / Management / Maintenance EXP Strong in AD Services (DNS/DHCP..etc..) Ability to Batch/Powershell sctipt and then broken down "familiarity with" SQL Exchange Citrix ...a plus! When you see a job posted as a Sr Systems guy/gal it's requirements to me should be focused around the actual work to be done - but mentioning the other products supported by the systems team always helps in finding that person with at least some knowledge of the other stuff, or maybe none. I have hired guys that were only Domain/AD Admins and they didn't have a ton of EXP with SQL or Exchange but did their part of the job so well it didn't matter to me. I understand your position on being insulted - but majority of the companies have Leads and/or Managers do the listing, interviewing, and hiring - and the actual workers look at them like "Wha-Happen?". I talk to my guys - I ask them were it is we need the expertise, and break it down with them. So we need an AD, SQL, Exchange, VB, VMWare guy/gal...and I ask where is the focus do we need someone with great AD skills and enough Exchange knowledge to create mailboxes and maybe be on call to support it - or do we need an AD guy that???s also a DBA? I want to hire a Sr Systems Engineer ??? I don???t want a tech that is JR at best with most products. Now I know this is just from a technical perspective, but the same goes with other jobs we hire for ??? I myself and someone that helps represent my company I want Rock Stars???don???t have a Masters in Finance but you???re a great person and a Wizard with a solid resume and the ability to prove it to me- you got a shot, so you only have a BA???and in one case nothing but a High School diploma. There are so many rules and regulations with HR now its hard to get proper listings and I have even in the past came to the table knowing what I know and still started to write out job requests that were just nonsense and not realized it until we went over a couple of resumes that didn???t match the requirements perfectly???but offered something different and then I began to think, yes I know some people are just trying to get anything but the fact that this guys was a Project manager and has mild technical experience maybe he would be right for a job with the team.hmmm??? getting us nerds to process/project-tize something is like pulling teeth. I should look at reworking this request and call this person to chat at least. Just my long winded thoughts ???

pmolina
pmolina

My gut reaction is to pick up the phone, call, and ask. Unless it specifically says "no calls". But then I had a cold-call sales background before I got into tech, so take this comment with a grain of salt.

walt1019
walt1019

In your case the manager knew you and your work ethic. Most likely he would have been willing to relax the requirements knowing that you would work out well for him in the end. Something a hiring manager would be reluctant to do with someone they have no knowledge of.

blockb
blockb

This article is a bit short sighted and insulting to many of us looking for work. What about the job specs that define impossible parameters? For example, I am an IT Auditor and IT Security professional. I have 5 certifications, all of which each require a minimum of 7-10 years. So I've come across specs that say," CISA required" or "CISSP required" and then the spec says 2-3 years experience. You cannot get any of these certifications with less than 7-10 years of experience in the aggregate of domains. What the sub-text message really is: We want someone who is certified, i.e. has the 7-10 years of experience, BUT we only want to pay you like a junior worker, so that you will work for half of what you are really worth. That's the message LOUD AND CLEAR. It's good to be owrking and be judgemental about those who are looking for work. It's not easy to see one's own faults and failings. Wait until you are out there with no propects because the hiring managers don't even really know the definitions or operations of the words, concepts or tasks they are looking for. This entire job market is a joke. That's why our country and businesses are in such a mess. A lot of people are faking knowledge and/or are inexperienced.

dshaw
dshaw

I've been in this business since 1976. More than 20 years as manager. Required means just that. It is required. Non negotiable. You're waisting each others time with anything less.

crose
crose

I don't think that job requirements are negotiable - but what is negotiable is the person and their ability (or inability) to grow into the posed requirements/position. Many people may not have the necessary required experience but with a little patience and support, if they have the desire, they can be a very successful asset to your company. These persons are also great because you can train them according to YOUR standards and expectations. A little bit of support and loyalty to your employees goes a long way. Also, because these people usually REALLY WANT THE JOB they will be the right person because they excel out of their desire to succeed. That takes a special person - quick learner, someone who takes responsbility for their work, and who is able to "hit the floor running" so to speak. If you find this person, grab them - they are the RIGHT person for the job.

dwright
dwright

To me ... I have a Bachelor's in Computer Science ... I believe that if an employer is requiring that someone should have geometry and trignometry ... is not unreasonable. First ... there are too many unqualified IT employees in our field that do not know what they are doing. If you possess a Bachelor's in Computer Science ... then you are well qualified and this degree actually requires going through high level math to include several classes of Calculus. My thought is get rid of the unqualified IT employees and put the people into position that have the qualifications and your network and applications will have less downtime.

catfish182
catfish182

The example of 6 months in the helpdesk does not mean you can admin a network is a great example but here is the other side of that. I have been the helpdesk for a small company for 4 years. We do IT support for 7 other companies and i am their help desk. I am also the network admin for our company. So my job is to make sure the techs network run so they can do their job for our clients. so to be fair i put that i have 2 years of network admin experience since the the first 2 years was spent learning and cutting my teeth on issues. So i put that in my resume and hiring managers do not believe me. I was even told by one person that its not nice to lie about what i know. I told them some war stories and asked them to quiz me so that i could prove to them i knew some things. They did not believe me. I normally get feedback of "if you did network admin then you would not do help desk". Since this is a small company all of us wear many hats and i just happen to be good with phone support so that's why i do help desk. so how can i convince a hiring manager that i have experience and knowledge when they doubt what is on my resume?

swats
swats

Nowadays the people who write the job requirements are out of touch with what is actually needed to perform any given job. Perhaps you are an exception to this, Toni. I've seen job requirements for a $30k that required a master's degree, 10 years in the field, Cisco and Microsoft certifications... I've been in the field now for 10 years, and can do more than most without the certifications. But when I apply and don't have the certs listed in my resume, I never make it past the initial cut. I'm firmly convinced that job descriptions are written to specifically eliminate ALL applicants so that the hiring manager can turn around and hire an H1B.

g_machuca
g_machuca

Well, if you're the hiring manager and your project is slipping because 'you can't find the right people', believe me, people up the food chain WILL ask awkward questions. Your career will be shortened accordingly or you'll be 'promoted' out of harms way. I much rather have someone that I can manage, quick learner and willing to have a go than someone that ticks all the boxes. Like its been said, the 'right' person will be bored in 2 seconds flat. And you would have wasted aaaaaall that money looking for the 'right' person.

jamieson.angus
jamieson.angus

The elements of a candidate appear to be the following. First and foremost, to be able to illustrate technical knowledge, excellent verbal communication skills, and of course to have competence in the field for which they are applying to work within. Without predjudice, almost all employers in todays modern economic arena demand value for money, (such is the nature of IT) A willingness to subserve, an eagerness to please to a degree, and above all team playing. Albeit 6 months on a helpdesk is not a huge qualification to SAN or NAS tech or for that matter a SQL administrator. But the value you get from someone that lasts in a high pressure dynamic environment such as call centre work does hold ground and should carry across more sought after qualities than the Salary Jumper. At least to a prospective employer. Adaptability, courage under fire and above all a thirst for satisfying the customer are key elements. Communication skills at the top level of engineering can sometimes be regarded as retarded, but the job get s done yes? The helpdesk person will work to get that knowledge with (IMHO) retainable attributes. Suffice to say, the helpdesk person is more employable, in short, because they have goals ahead of money.

Stubby
Stubby

Weer I in the market and looking to apply for the job I now have then I would never dream of applying for it because of the "stated requirements". However, I know only too well how pie in the sky these requirements are which then leads me to think 'why would any other job spec be any different' and thus you get the situation of people applying for jobs above / below their skill levels. I guess as an employer you'll just have to keep on sifting. Byut then as aformer manager of mine used to say "that's why you get paid the big bucks"!

Barkha
Barkha

What about when the job does not match the job description? Recently had an experience of being hired as a SQL database developer with >NEt experience only to find that there were no SQL servers at the organisation nor any .NET applications, all the databases were Access standalone database with the provision we are migrating to SQL server the servers will arrive next week...

clive.harman-smith
clive.harman-smith

Recently, in the UK, I have been tempted to reply to some of these 'fanciful' job requirements, sent to me by employment agencies. In fact one I did respond to, direct to their contact address in a rather impertinent way... '..., so if you think there is even ONE person out there who fulfills even half of those requirements, they would certainly not be on your mailing list, they would be happily working one day a week for more money than you're offering for five!' 'Get real and stop being so damned stupid and un-professional!!!' Predictably, no acknowledgement or reply :-)

prosenjit11
prosenjit11

This is definitely an important debate because today the IT industry is split into various domains and again there are sub divisions with various roles in it. When said that the Hiring Manager CAN know the guy and can fish out what is really in the Resume. It is important for the Hiring Manager to know to work certain details and doing the homework before recruiting the candidate, first and foremost get the time to select a few resumes and go into the details and then see why has the person applied for the job? At a level where a person is having 10 years or 15 years of experience he could have his interests of being in the Management like being a Project Manager or a People Manager, now a Project Manager in an Embedded Systems domain is not only people management and a lot to be worked out with specifications, design, coding, testing and maintenance. So, when the Resume is read my the Manager he should be qualified enough to judge from the number of projects worked on by the candidate whether he or she is capable or not. Again, if the candidate is looking for an Architect role, is he been into projects that are visible into his CV where Architecting is required or is it just a migration and porting job and if at all what all the modules which needed architecting from the High Level Design?, the Data Flow Diagrams to the Flow Charts. Secondly, what is important is the telephonic interview and this is critical because there are few important parameters that could be measured here. i) The communication skills wherein the Hiring Manager can rate the person's capability to communicate the technical information with the best possible examples both in the theory and practice and also the time taken to do so. Sometimes, in todays world even the Chinese and Japanese who really struggle to speak few lines of English come out at gestures to Indians who very good communicators on the point that they are not able to communicate to the point. ii) When a person is in a face to face interview a person could use his management skills and use the paper and the Board going with algorithms and diagrams to explain the stuff. Now a 10 to 15 years candidate has done lot of coding and if he has been into the design he could very well do this and this could also give a detailed information to the depth he has worked in the project. But, again if he is in the telephonic interview certain specific questions by the interviewer if he is really looking for the candidate on the Job description and he too is qualified would make it clear if the candidate has been working real time or is it a piece of theoritical information being put from Certification Exams and Degrees and often some thesis in PhDs are not used in projects where there is a timeline for 3- 6 months execution time. Most important here is the experience of the candidate, good if he is PhD, or if he is BE or MTech, it matters how has he tackled such situations and the pressure. The Hiring Manager should be able to take a call here and analyse the candidate. iii) Now, if the person is clearing the telephonic rounds it may not be necessary for a face to face at all because the position itself is driving and executing, failing to which he or she is always on the firing line. A face to face could happen to see the candidate and understand him better. But this should be clear if a person is taken for the role of a Project Leader or Project Manager and then after six months he should not be informed, look the organisational hierarchy has changed and you are a Sr.Engineer actually, these things sometime happen with terminologies and designations used in USA or any other European countries v/s to what is used in India for the same experience. iv) Today most of the customers are on Conference Calls and the telephonic interview is a judgement of its own on how the candidate reacts to the questions and the time take to answer with the convincing power in it rather can negotiate in a situation where the project is in the Maintenance Phase but the team is still doing the Regression Testing and Debugging. Most important here is how does he convince because technically if someone is doing a job for 10 to 15 years he would execute on this desktop individually but when handling a project starting with the requirements to the execution phase it is a different story. PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT APPLYING FOR A JOB IS LIKE A LOTTERY THEY SHOULD GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND START STUDYING AGAIN AS THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. SUCH PEOPLE ONLY LICK THE BOSSES AND SURVIVE BY RUINING OTHER PEOPLES LIVES. THIRD RATE PEOPLE.

prosenjit11
prosenjit11

This is well said as in the past couple of days I have been in interviews rather being interviewed. Interestingly there are some companies who really do have many conflicting requirements and they try to get back to your previous employer what the guy was doing. Frantically speaking when I explained to the interviewer what was my job profile. He was a bit confused on what was the Time Management and how was one man doing multitasking?, example someone who is an Applications Engineer in a semiconductor company does a very different job when we talk in terms of customisation and meeting the requirements from the customers compared to standard/conventional software houses. The same term "Applications" in the software industry would be developing and customising/ porting in the Application Layer, maybe developing a Graphical User Interface. So, when a Project Leader from a semiconductor company goes to a conventional industry then the equation??? Is the profile actually expected to do the multitasking in the next organisation as a multifaceted man. Well, that is a part of the job and role is in One Phrase. MEET THE EXPECTATIONS OF YOUR BOSS OR QUIT

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Were any of these who you saw fake it and make it, fit to do more than make you coffee while you were working?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

No salary = so low you wouldn't bother applying for it anyway, same for stupidly broad ranges. The tech list I use as a guide, they don't know what any of it means anyway...

lodestone
lodestone

I used to work for a government agency. By law they had to post all openings. All too often, however, I would come across openings with some rather strange requirement mixes: "must be certified in HTML, network security, C++, forklift operation and creative writing," or some such non sequitor. Right there I knew they already had in mind who they wanted in the position. Since they couldn't just hire the person they would jimmy the job requirements. --Allen

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

One of my favourites was for 2nd line support person, where the salary range was ?20k to ?55k. Requirement ran from novice helpdesk, to can invent a custom peripheral, build, program and install it on every operating system ever invented, apart from maybe Plan 9 that was a nice to have. So who exactly is going to apply for this, it won't be the genius because he sese they don't want him, and the novice, still hasn't finished reading the job spec.... It's often said that there's no such thing as a stupid question, well you have to have some exception to prove the rule and hirers are usually exceptions.

MrGrumpy
MrGrumpy

That pretty much sums up this shocking state of affairs.

blockb
blockb

Most of the people who either write the job specs OR interview don't really do the job or don't know what the side requirements for the job are or they don't understand how one adapts to work in an environment. Even with war stories and references, I think they already know who they will hire and go thru the motions to satisfy the federal regs and EEO parameters.

mishme0912
mishme0912

I agree with the way you are moving with your response. It seems that companies want to eliminate the qualified applicants to move in personnel from other countries who have their visas. I am not happy that even the U.S. government hires such personnel because these individuals supposedly have more experience and education. If the companies spent the time properly training their individuals and gave others a chance, then more people residing in the U.S. would get the jobs. That is how I feel about this, as more of the jobs in my region have been eliminated and I am never selected for government work.

Stan.Williams
Stan.Williams

Swats, you may be all too correct. Take it from your neighbor in NC, job requirements here seem unrealistic and maybe for reasons unspoken. The other thing I can't understand - and this has caused us to miss real talent - is HR prescreening. Our HR department is allowed/empowered to prescreen resumes based on job descriptions that may or may not be accurate. Lots of resumes get thrown out by HR because "required" skills or a degree is missing. Then someone will get the job that shouldn't have made it passed HR and you find out they were an acquaintence of the hiring manager or a consulting firm cleared for placement insisted they were a good match. I'd still rather have a "not completely qualified", motivated, agressive US citizen than outsourcing.

prosenjit11
prosenjit11

Hi, I think You Hit the Bull's Eye. But, this is not only for H1B it is in every part of the world. Of course sometimes.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Given your title you and I could probably come up with an assessment of whether we can do what we say we can. How many hiring managers are capable of assessing our technical competence though. In a very long and continuing career, I've never had one that could. A good one should assign that task to some he 'knows' is technically competent. I've met some (very few) managers who could assess some of my hard skills, simply never directly worked for one. Communication skills, personality, outlook, organisational fit, any manager worth the title should be able to assess. As for the lottery thing, like commnication that works two ways. Am I as candidate buying a ticket for a job, or is the hiring manager buying one for an employee. Do we want to hold out for the jackpot, or seetle for third proize because we need it now. What constitutes good enough? It's nowhere near as black and white as you make out, if it was we wouldn't be having this discussion.

prosenjit11
prosenjit11

You are right and I am just going a bit ahead of this discussion. What is the Project Manager doing in a Project? Why is he often paid more than the Architect? Rather in the Ladder he reports to the Manager. Again Lottery for a monthly salary is never a lottery. Technies are technically competent and they can execute jobs, only aspect being discussed here is, if someone sends a MAIL "solve the bug" from the US or UK to an offshore development centre in INDIA first of all, they are not aware how much time it is going to take because it is taken as the programmer's bug here. But, it might so happen that it is a hardware issue practically and here communication skills come into play where with a step by step analysis a conclusion is made on the dependencies of the bug to the entire system or is it just a peripherial that we are looking at here with a hands on testing carried out individually or with a team. Since, you are a Systems Programmer I am writing these details. Sometimes, people who provide the design to write the code are not aware of the pitfalls in the future and then it is the Project Manager or the Skilled Communicative guy who has to take the brunt to explain things and if solved then Who????? & Where the Credit Goes? IF Fails then fire the person? Am I right? ??????

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

In that I do high level design and implementation, sometimes on separate tasks sometimes by putting one hat away and donning the other. The big problem in hiring techies is the ignorant confuse tools with skills. My core skill is writing applications to solve problems, with a mass of experience in cross platform and client/ server, particularly databases. Talk to the over educuated morons in HR, and my core skill is Delphi, or C# or SQL server. I have no problem with people being ignorant, as long as once they discover it they seek to correct or cope with it. I'm not a coder, I'm a developer, and can't think of any task I've done where I didn't do the design, work on it with others, or was presented with the fait accomplit of an existing one. Communication is not an issue, except when the other fooker chooses not to listen. Though some have said I can be a wee bit blunt on occasion. :p