Here are my two least favorite hiring practices.

1. Jobs that are posted even though there’s already a clear candidate in mind. This happens in situations when a company is required to post positions (under the guise of being fair and equitable) even though the hiring manager already has his or her mind set on a particular person. It’s kind of a crappy practice that ultimately just sets the unaware applicant up for a bigger disappointment.

Sometimes hiring managers will word a job description so specifically that you know there is only one person on the face of the earth who could fit it.

If you see job requirements like this, you can be pretty sure something is up:

  • 3 years hands-on experience administering Microsoft Exchange
  • Must be between 5′ 8″ and 5′ 8 1/2″
  • Must drive a Saab

You can either forge ahead and apply, in the hopes that your personal charisma will overcome your “deficits,” or you can just take the hint and back off. Something like this happened to me once and I backed off. The hiring manager later pretended to be perplexed as to why I hadn’t applied. So if I had it to do over, I’d apply and make him tell me why the specifics he outlined were so crucial to the job. If people are going to be sneaky, make them defend their sneakiness.

2. Managers who hire for specific credentials instead of technical aptitude. I read a great article by IT headhunter Nick Corcodilos who said the reason there are cries of skill shortages in IT is because managers look for candidates who have “done it before” because they don’t know how to capitalize on the talents of candidates who haven’t. He said,

“These managers fear the learning curve because they can’t control it. (Curiously, these same managers seem to have no problem waiting months to find the perfect candidate.) In the job interview, these managers are incapable of identifying the talent that would allow a C++ programmer to quickly master Perl, or a catalog merchandiser to apply her skills to selling stuff on your Web site.”

We’ve all heard about how easy it is to master another foreign language after you’ve mastered one. To me, IT is the same. If you have the technical aptitude to understand one technology, then you are more capable of picking up another. You just need someone to guide you in the process initially.