Job Openings: Are Employers Placing Too Much Emphasis On Requirements?

Too Much Stuff

Currently neck-deep into the hunt for a new job, I’m realizing first and foremost that I was laid off at precisely the wrong time, right at the beginning of the summer. Tuesday after Labor Day, I received no few than seven calls/emails regarding my resume, which leads me to believe that many employers posted job openings and then took vacation. I’m not complaining, because I’m getting a lot of interest as of late. But that’s not the point of this post.

I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that employers are being far more strict about the requirements for these open positions that they list on Monster, HotJobs (which, coincidentally, is now owned by Monster and will be merging with them in the near future), LinkedIn, and elsewhere.

Too Much StuffI suppose this should be of no surprise. With a current national unemployment rate of 9.6%, no doubt most employers believe that such a large unemployed pool will provide plenty of candidates that are highly-qualified for these particular jobs.

But is it worth it to employers to wait for that “perfect on paper” candidate? Personally, I believe this method may cause employers to overlook some potential fantastic candidates simply because they’re lacking one or two requirements for the job.

For example, many employers are now requiring that a candidate have an MBA. I had a phone call last week with the CEO of a company out west whose first comment to me was, “Well, we really did want someone with an MBA, so …” He paused, expecting a response. So I gave him one, detailing my marketing experience and the things that I’ve learned through taking a hands-on approach. In essence, I tried to convey the idea that practical knowledge and experience is often times more valuable than having a degree on the subject. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not discounting the value of an MBA, and, in fact, plan to get mine in a few years, but I don’t believe not having one should deter employers from a candidate who may be absolutely fantastic at what they do. I also think that professional experience generally carries more weight than knowledge of marketing theory.

I also lost out on another opportunity with a company in the south because I failed to satisfy just one of the probably twenty listed. I knew that I was more than capable of performing this job, but my specific lack of four years of experience with project management (I have two) knocked me out of the running before I could even get past HR.

These are obstacles that I, and I’m sure many others, are facing now. Does this apply to every employer? Of course not. I had a good call with a company in New York City this week, and while the gentleman with whom I spoke said bluntly, “Well, you’re not exactly the candidate we were expecting,” he was quick to add that his company was more concerned with finding a quick learner and enthusiastic worker with a proven track record of positive results than finding someone who “fit the mold” of said opportunity, and that I was definitely an example of the former.

But the truth is that so many employers are being so picky about job candidates lately that it may be possible that they’re missing out on the best candidates simply because HR or whomever is in charge of hiring disregards applicants simply because they’re missing one or two things on the company’s checklist.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter, from the perspective of either a job-seeker or someone who is trying to fill a position at their own company. Am I wrong in thinking that this could actually be detrimental to employers?

Categories: Career and Office

One Comment so far:

  1. Julia Vargas says:

    Ingrid, I completely agree with this. Often times hiring managers are lacking leadership abilities and therefore list off many hurdles for candidates to fit through. As a staffing professional I find that truly successful hiring authorities think proactively and scout for talent with a long term view. Companies that I work with are successful in the hiring because they come to me looking for talent that hold those intangible qualities/values rather than specific experience. They understand that they can essentially train this candidate to use their program and/or sales tactics, but they cannot train a candidate to hold those values they are seeking (such as that mission oriented mentality). Companies need to think in terms of attracting talent that will benefit their organization as a whole and not just a specific portion or project.