10 Jul 2003
When writing job listings, some managers and companies will list every skill they wish a potential employee might have as required experience. The following is from an actual job posting on a major job Web site:
For this position, with one of the world’s foremost manufacturing companies, you will own the design and maintenance of an Intranet website. You will be responsible for maintaining the integrity, consistency, and accuracy of the written and graphical content of online as well as offline publications, while conforming to established standards. This will involve working closely with internal staff to gather / organize content, manage / resolve issues, and provide training and support related to web publishing. Additionally, you will be documenting network infrastructure strategies, network hardware ordering and implementation procedures, and other workflow processes.
- 3+ years relevant experience
- Expert-level skills with web publishing and graphics software, including Dreamweaver 4.0, FrontPage 2000, Adobe Photoshop, WEBTrends, FTP, and Visio 2000
- Familiarity with UNIX and Windows NT platforms
- Experienced documenting workflow processes
- Background in telecommunications
- BA/BS in CS or related field
Documenting workflow processes? That’s the job of a business analyst. Network infrastructure is the realm of a network engineer, and maintaining “the integrity, consistency, and accuracy” of content is what an editor does.
In the tools list, they want someone who’s an expert with FrontPage 2000. Apparently they aren’t looking for serious Web developers. I know very few Web development experts who think that FrontPage is a decent tool. FrontPage is a tool used by non-developers to mange their site in a MS Word-like environment.
They also list FTP as a tool that this expert web designer and programmer needs to know. That’s like asking for a mechanic who is also skilled in using a wrench. Any Web professional is going to have experience with FTP. And even if someone didn’t for some reason, FTP isn’t rocket science. If you can copy files, you can use FTP.
It’s obvious that someone is listing all the tools that might be used in the job, adding in the job requirements, and then throwing in a wishlist of all the skills that might be useful. The problem with this approach is that you are virtually guaranteeing that you won’t get qualified applicants for the position.
When I look at that job description, I can’t decipher what they really want. What’s the real need behind that job? Do they want a developer, a designer, a manager, or an analyst? They are discouraging people from applying because they don’t have all those skills. A great manager with lots of experience in leading Web teams might not apply because they don’t know Photoshop. A hot designer that doesn’t have expert knowledge in four different programming languages will send their resume elsewhere.
So who will apply for that job? Someone who’s prior experience is building their uncle’s Web site. They’ve dabbled in all those technologies, so surely they are qualified, right? Publish a job listing like that and you’ll also get flood of resumes from people who have one or two of the skills you mentioned. The responses will be all over the map and good luck in weeding out those who are unqualified.
Give people half a chance and they will pre-qualify themselves for a job. No one wants to take the time to send resumes and cover letters and never get a response. If you want to receive quality resumes from a group of qualified applicants, explain exactly what you want. Write a tight job description with the basic required skills. If you still feel the need to try to get “the dream applicant,” list your nice-to-have skills in a separate section. Say something like, “it would be helpful, but not necessary, if you have any of the following skills…”
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