Please see me in person

A first person account

"Well-qualified, capable, generalist with management, software development, Web programming, quality assurance, documentation, multiple languages and extensive China experience seeks interim or regular employment."

Problem is, no one wants me. I'm told I'm overqualified for this position or don't have enough experience for that position or don't have version of Big Company's software or 'I'm not a good fit or 'something. The excuses go on and on.

Pseudo-requirements are sliced and diced and assembled into lists of tasks that no one person could actually perform. It seems the real goal is to eliminate as many people as possible so recruiters don't have to talk with all those pesky applicants, and then the company turns around and claims it can't find anyone.

I was recently told by an IBM representative that "Your skills and experience are admirable, but they don't matter." She said the company uses a computer matching algorithm to search resumes for key words and proper formatting, then uses a random selection process to pick through the matched resumes. Translation: We ''care more about formatting and keywords than people.

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KPMG takes a similar approach. I recently responded to a call for a senior project manager for the company's China practice, preferably with language skills. With over 15 years in China, many business contacts, near-native fluency in Mandarin and 10-plus years project management, consulting, and business development experience, I thought I would be on the short list. I was wrong. My qualifications and skills did not matter. I was told I wasn't wanted because I had not previously worked for a direct competitor.

Just recently I was told by a sympathetic recruiter (one of the good ones) that he thought I would be a good fit for a team developing requirements for a SAP implementation, but he wasn't sure if the hiring manager would consider me because I didn't have years of SAP experience. I reminded him I was experienced in gathering requirements, had worked with other ERP systems and that each installation is unique. I pointed out I learn quickly and can perform basic functions in any system within hours. He agreed I could probably do the job, but the hiring manager had an unrealistic expectation of the skills needed for the role.

Last month, there was a translation job at Disney. The requirement was for someone who could translate a database interface to Chinese. I have over 10 years database development and translation experience; I know the difference between a field name and a label. I've worked extensively with forms and reports and with the CJK character sets. I contacted the recruiter.

"Do you know Siebel?" he asked. "I have Oracle, Informix, MySQL, Access and a little DB2," I replied. It did not matter that I was not going to be a DBA nor was I being hired to design the system; the manager would only consider a Siebel expert.

Conversely, I have been told I have too much experience (translation: we want someone younger). I had applied for an analyst contract, but was told by the consulting company the job was reserved for someone with 2-5 years experience and they didn't want me. I thought about filing an 'Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, but last year the EEOC office in Miami told me contractors and consultants are not covered by EEOC laws. It seems hiring managers can freely discriminate as long as they are only discriminating against non-employees.

Bottom line: "Must have" lists have replaced human beings, and experienced workers are not wanted. If real people were actually considered instead of simplistically matching skill lists, employers would find a wealth of resources available -- and there are quite a few of us looking for work!

The practice of automatically rejecting qualified people because resumes don't precisely match the "must have" list or include the "right" combination of keywords is what is creating the fake skills shortage. It has nothing to do with a lack of talented people.

If your organization could use a talented, well-qualified, multifunctional person with international experience and a positive attitude, contact me at

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