Tech & Work

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?


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.


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.

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