How To Apply For a Job That Has Impossible Requirements

It is sometimes a comedy of errors to observe the (sometimes) disconnect from reality between recruiters, job seekers and well-meaning hiring managers. Case in point, Google released a new programming language called “Go” in November 2009. Here is some hype sharing how cool it is.


Why do I bring this up? I was curious about its popularity and looked it up on the Tiobe index. At this writing, it was ranking at #20. (Already? Wow!) Good for Google, but maybe a conundrum for jobseekers. Why? I believe that eventually I will see job ads where companies will require 5+ years of experience in this programming language. Yes, I know that the language is barely a year old. Think I am way off in my thinking? I’m not.

When I used to work for Siemens (way back when), I remember reading an article in VOIP Magazine about how a certain HR manager of a certain cable broadband provider contacted a certain expert for assistance in finding experienced IP communications people. It seems that this certain company had made a decision to deploy Voice over IP next year to round out a consumer package. What this certain HR manager wanted specifically, was a Director Of VoIP Operations. Since Director Of VoIP was a brand spanking-new position, involving a new technology, and a new service model for the company, whomever landed that gig would need an excellent understanding of emerging technologies and a crystal clear view of the impact that this service would have on this cable broadband provider’s business model. The writer of the article was not wholly optimistic of the HR manager’s success. Why? Long story short, there were not many people around that fit the job description the HR manager described. And this got me thinking.

“Self,” I said to myself, “How would you go about applying for a job with Bigfoot requirements?”

“Bigfoot requirements?”

“Yes,” I continue to say to… ummm… myself.

“Bigfoot requirements are job descriptions (or part of a job description) that some recruiters and hiring managers believe are legitimate, but jobseekers in the know accept them as general myth.”

Bigfoot requirements are not uncommon in HR, as they usually occur whenever new technologies become popular. Case in point, when the JAVA programming language was released in 1995 (or was it 1996?), it was not uncommon to see job postings for Java developers with 5 years (or more) experience. This was laughable on one level and frustrating in every other sense for both recruiters and hiring managers alike. How was a recruiter going to find the perfect candidate when (overall) they did not exist as the technology itself was barely a few months old?I ran into this when I was recruiting Executive and Technical personnel for startup companies in the 90′s. So what happenned back then? Well, some businesses changed their mind on how they chose to proceed on certain projects, delayed their initiatives (until the dotcom bubble burst), or dropped them alltogether. If I could go back in time, I would rattle off a list of what they could do (or I could have done) to find Bigfoot candidates skilled in Java or any other hot new emerging technology. Alas, I can not go back in time; but perhaps you dear reader can benefit from these finite pearls of wisdom.

When you are applying for a job where when years of experience is required in a technology that is only a few months old, do one (or all) of the following:

1. Look for the best of the best in last year’s technology. Ask yourself this, “What technology out there is like (fill-in-the-blank) technology?” If (fill-in-the-blank) technology does the same thing as (last year’s technology), but faster, perhaps I can share with the Recruiter that I am really good with (last year’s technology) and potentially could take it to the next level?

2. Explain to the Recruiter that experts in (fill-in-the-blank) technology are in short supply and that it would be infinitely easier, more productive and cost effective to train someone like you in (fill-in-the-blank) technology especially since you are so good in (last year’s technology).

3. Create a program in (fill-in-the-blank) technology and post it online. Get people to give you feedback. Approach the Recruiter with “I do not have 5 years in a tech that was just created. However, I am very good at (last year’s technology) and have used the principles of (last-year’s technology) to build this prototype based on (fill-in-the-blank technology). My project seems to have garnered a lot of positive feedback in the developer community. Here are a few quotes…

Good luck with your search!


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One thought on “How To Apply For a Job That Has Impossible Requirements”

  1. This is excellent advice especially when there are many emerging technologies in the health care industry. This would have been especially great advice during the digital/electronic medical record rush that happened a few years ago. I suspect this is also great advice to people looking to mobilize workforces this day in age given the new smartphone and tablet computing rushes that are currently happening as people pick up devices like iPhones or iPads and decide that they could effectively use them in the workplace. iOS, Android, and upcoming BlackBerry Playbook developers could really do well with this advice and follow emerging markets in industry.

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