Job seekers and job requirements

Hiring is more of an art than a science. Despite multiple interviews, reference checks and background checks, in the end you pretty much end up going with your gut. After all, the all-important intangibles can't be divined from a piece of paper or words from their mouth. That's what makes hiring so hard. I've hired folks whom I thought would work out fantastically, but didn't. And I've hired folks who were a leap of faith, but turned out terrific. I'm sure you've experienced this along the way, too.

Hiring is also equally difficult from the other side of the desk. Especially today, many job candidates are feeling like they're being passed over for interviews because they lack the exact - and sometimes unrealistic - set of requirements laid out by the employer. But, they argue, they can learn. One recent letter from a reader expresses this frustration:

"The jobs I look at seem like they want you to know 100% of their environment and have 10 years experience on all aspects.

It just seems a long shot for one person to have the exact job experience they're looking for, especially with the zillions of combinations of technology that are out there to have experience in. Do you have further advice on pinning employers and getting them to understand that technology can be a learned/acquired skill?"

For an answer, I turned to IT staffing expert Paula Manning, who offered up her advice in this, a buyer's market:

"Most employers will list their required and desired skills on a job posting or print ad. Typically, the required skills are 'must haves' and the desired skills are just an added bonus if the candidate possesses those. In this market, clients usually won't budge on their required skills because of the number of people on the market, so it is always hard to convince a client that required skills can be learned quickly (even though many times they can). Also, many IT departments are running such lean staffs, that they don't have time to train someone or even to have them trained on certain technologies or skills.

"I would suggest that if the reader sees a job that has been open for four to six months and they are requesting an unreasonable amount of skills/technologies, then this may be a better time to approach the company. When the reader approaches the company she needs to approach them with a solution vs. saying she can do the job or can be trained. For example, if she has 75% of the skills required she can discuss her strength in those skills and mention that she noticed the position had been open for quite some time. The main thing is to notice how long the job has been open (or posted online) because if it was recent chances are that they will want to look for a few months for their 'ideal candidate. But if it has been open for four to six months, they are more apt to be flexible to considering someone with most of the skills but not all of the skills."

Now, from a management standpoint what can we learn? Review your job requirements. Are they unrealistic? In this market, you might as well aim high due to the surplus of good candidates out there. But if you don't find exactly what you're looking for, review the "second-tier" resumes you received, and you might find the person you've been looking for all along.

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