Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jobs That Nobody Qualifies For

Like most I.T. professionals I get contacted regularly by headhunters and recruiters who would like to place me with their clients. I also participate in a number of Linux related groups on the business social networking site LinkedIn. I do try to keep abreast of market conditions and I do read job postings now and again.

We all know that the U.S. economy is still creating jobs at a relatively slow pace, salaries are down at least a little, and even in I.T. many good people are looking for work. One of the net results is that a company or recruiter can get inundated with résumés for a given position. Companies can and do put out long wish lists of skills and experience to reduce the number of applicants to those who most closely match the position and related positions within their I.T. departments. That's all well and good. However, sometimes those desired or required skills effectively reduce the pool of qualified people to zero.

Here is a great example. This was the #1 requirement for a Senior Linux Administrator position:

• 8+ years working with RHES v5.x+ and CentOS v5.x+ Linux systems administration.
The first public beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0 was announced on September 7, 2006. Nobody on the planet has that level of experience. Eight years ago RHEL 4.0 wasn't even released yet. It's even worse for Microsoft admins. I saw a position demanding 10 years of experience or more in SQL Server 2008 and Office 2010.

Who writes these requirements? Can't they read a calendar? I guess basic math is not a requirement to work in some HR departments or as a recruiter for some companies. Ridiculous doesn't even begin to describe this and yet I see things like this over and over again.


Albert Kurucz said...

Because of the title, I was thinking of the job of my manager. :)

Unknown said...

Yes this is a HR rep who has NO idea that SQL Server 2008 came out in 2008. Seriously.

HR reps have a frontal labotamy when it comes to IT positions....

Unknown said...

the solution is rather obvious. companies say all the time they have "157 years experience in..." when what they mean is "we have 18 people on staff who each have about 8 years experience in..."

so turn it around on them and find another person who's been using $SOFTWARE since it came out and claim to have the requisite experience together. you'll have to split the job, but just think -> one more job and you've got full time employment, with 1/2 the risk of being let go ;)

Warren said...

Am I the only one who thinks that they mean "You have experience in SQL Server platform going back ten years, and you've been using Sql Server 2008 since it came out?" -- So not impossible, if you remember that Sql Server has definitely been around more than 10 years, and that "Sql Server" is a product, "2008" is a version.


Caitlyn Martin said...

Warren, that's a very generous attempt to reinterpret what is a patently ridiculous ad. It wasn't written the way you describe it. Note the direct quote on the Red Hat/CentOS example. It was written as 10 years of Office 2010 and SQL 2008.

Shawn H Corey said...

"Who writes these requirements?"

Those who want to hire only white males. Since nobody qualifies, they can reject women, blacks, Hispanics with the claim they don't met the qualifications.

Unknown said...

This has been going on for years. In 1999, I remember seeing a job posting for 5 years Java experience.

Unknown said...

Some (or a lot) of these job listings post such impossible requirements simply so they can claim there are no qualified Americans, then they can fill them with cheap H1B's instead

Anonymous said...


Gee, you're not too brainwashed. White heterosexual men from the working and middle classes are the most discriminated against group -- by far.

Caitlyn Martin said...

@gnuguru: Nonsense! IT is dominated by young white men. This claim is made over and over again by people who are mostly on the right politically and it is absolute hogwash. Every study and all the statistics published on the job market make that absolutely clear.

Unknown said...


From page 3:

"minorities, particularly African Americans, Hispanics, and
women, remain sorely underrepresented across the high tech sector and in the ranks of some of the sector’s biggest companies. An investigation conducted by the San Jose Mercury News in 2010 revealed significant disparities in the employment of African Americans, Hispanics, and
women in ten of the 15 largest firms located in Silicon Valley, the leading high tech region in the
country.14 Similar data indicate that such disparities exist across the national high tech sector."

Unknown said...


"Blacks, Latinos and women lose ground at Silicon Valley tech companies"

Greg said...

The mathematically impossible years of experience is a good example of ridiculous requirements, but there are others too. I've seen long lists of technology that I'm sure no single person on the planet has.

It's not just the HR people and recruiters. Often these job postings are written by the hiring manager. I don't understand what they're thinking. Even if they found someone with everything on their list, in a year or two those technologies will be out of fashion, and they'll "need" a whole different set of skills.

They would be much smarter to hire talent than a list of skills. They will probably have this employee for several years and use them on many projects, so they should hire someone who is smart and can learn. Yes, they might not be up to speed as quickly when first hired, but the longer term costs will be lower. And if you hire smart people, you might even get better products, instead of just cogs with the right skills implementing what some manager dictates.

I have seen some job postings like this, but they are few and far between. I mostly just delete the ones with long lists of skills, but the ones looking for talent really get my attention.

There's an opportunity there for smart managers to build superior teams. They'll have to change their attitudes though, and learn to look for less measurable qualities, like "smart". It's more difficult, but that's how you beat your competitors.

Think like Google or Apple, not IBM or Unisys.

Unknown said...

I agree with the write up and the reason it is a problem is because that the same people writing the requirements (HR) are the people analyzing the resumes that come in. So even if the IT dept would understand the 10 yr SQL concept they would never see the resume because HR would dismiss it out right because it doesn't meet their 10 years of 2008 numbers. To them they are just bullet points on their requirement sheet that needs to match up.

Anonymous said...

"Am I the only one who thinks that they mean "You have experience in SQL Server platform going back ten years, and you've been using Sql Server 2008 since it came out?"

Not at all, that's exactly what I read it as.

I would say... if you care enough about Linux to instantly see that a certain version has only been out since XXXX, you're probably going to place as one of the better applicants.

This speaks from personal experience. Just yesterday my IT manager (strong Unix, but not Linux background) asked me a question that seemed absurd and was time base like this article mentions. The fact that it seemed odd, or that you know the release cycles based on the calendar, indicate a level of specialization. Far more specialized, of course, than the people who you will be reporting to. And of course, this is a good thing - they'd not need to hire you if they're that specialized.

barnabyh said...

That's right Caitlyn. It really makes you wonder, and angry, that these people with only half a brain have a job in the first place while you're out there looking, if you are.

Caitlyn Martin said...

@Barnaby: Thank you for your concern but I am gainfully employed. I run a small but profitable Linux consulting business. Having said that, I always keep up on what is out there and if an opportunity that was too good to resist presented itself I would, of course, have to consider it.