Educational Requirement: Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or Engineering is required.
Clearance Requirement: A current Secret Clearance is required.
Skill Requirement: Demonstrated experience with Java programming is required.
Not preferred….not desired….not hoped for….not wanted….required. Every job posting lists all kinds of things that the Hiring Manager is hoping to see in a qualified candidate. As a job seeker, you’ll see those things listed throughout the basic position description. But sprinkled within most job postings, you’re going to see that R word – Required.
As a job seeker, I encourage you to take that word at face-value. Unfortunately, many job applicants pay no attention to firm requirements in a position posting. It’s hard to blame them really. I recall that while working in a college Career Center, we routinely told students to go ahead and apply for positions for which they were not qualified. “If nothing else, it’s good practice,” we’d say in our most upbeat voice. “It can’t hurt to give it a shot. The worst they can do is say no!”
And to a certain extent we were right. There was no harm in giving the student practice in applying to jobs and to encourage them to reach beyond the obvious limitations of their lack of experience. Unfortunately, I’m afraid our positivity should have been tempered with a dose of reality.
The reality is as follows:
1) If a degree, clearance, or specific skill is listed as a requirement within a position posting, most companies will refuse to hire anyone not meeting the listed criterion. This certainly applies to large companies with well-developed HR policies (and legal teams) but should apply universally to companies of all sizes. If any particular requirement is ignored in the hiring process, the company is then exposing themselves to litigation on the basis of unfair hiring practices. If a candidate is hired that does not meet a listed minimum requirement then another applicant that was not hired may make an EEO claim, or worse, sue the company. I think there’s a good chance they’d have a case. [Note: I am not a lawyer nor do I claim to dispense legal advice. These are my opinions only.]
2) While there’s no harm in trying to get a position that is “above your abilities”, at least no harm to you, there is harm to the company doing the hiring. Time is money and reviewing resumes takes time. Every resume submitted for a position gets looked at by a human (or sometimes by a computer but that’s an entirely different article) and reviewed for relevancy. The initial screen is often only to see if each candidate meets the minimum requirements of the position.
Here’s a simple example of a position I recently worked with:
The company posted a position with three firm requirements. First, the candidate must have earned a Bachelor’s degree in a Business-related field. Second, the candidate must have earned that degree during the last two years. Finally, the candidate must have earned a 3.0 or higher grade-point-average. Simple enough requirements to follow right? There were 487 total applicants. I personally reviewed all 487 only to determine that just 158 met all three requirements. Only 32% of the applicant pool was eligible for hire. Subsequently, only those applicants that did meet the requirements were sent on to the hiring manager for review. All other resumes were immediately taken out of the mix.
So if time is money, how much money did it cost the hiring organization to have someone review the resume of 329 unqualified applicants? While there may be no cost to each individual unqualified applicant, short of the time it took to cut and paste his/her resume online, there is significant cost to the recipient of the sum of those resumes. Even if the most seasoned recruiter can scan a resume for those factors in, oh let’s say 30 seconds, that means nearly three (3) hours were spent removing the chaff from the wheat.
3) It used to be said that one benefit of applying for a job that is over one’s head is that perhaps the resume will be considered for some other opening within the organization. While that may have been true when all the hiring was done at the department manager level, I do not believe that is true today for many organizations as the initial resume review is conducted within HR. Most initial resume screening is done by an in-house recruiter or by running electronic resumes through a keyword search.
In theory the in-house recruiter would be able to identify talent in a resume and then be able to link that candidate to another opening within the company. The unfortunate reality is that most in-house recruiting teams deal with such a high volume, and are generally so overworked, that such linking that sounds so great in theory is rarely executed in reality. Only if an organization has tremendous processes and/or an amazingly talented staff, would you be able to count on the in-house recruiter to keep his or her eyes and ears open on your behalf.
In summary, I encourage candidates to be realistic in their career aspirations and apply for positions accordingly. There is little to be gained by “over-applying” for positions on a regular basis. In turn I encourage companies to craft their position descriptions carefully and make sure that when they use the R word, they mean it and are willing to abide by it. There is little to be gained by opening the door to potential litigation.
[While I typically will refrain from using this forum to pitch the services of either organization I work with, this particular topic has brought up a number of challenges that employers currently face. These include the crafting of accurate and legal position descriptions, the time spent screening large numbers of resumes, the difficulty in viewing organizational hiring with a global vision (linking candidates to positions throughout the organization) and the importance of proactively working to avoid litigation in the hiring process. If you would like to discuss any of these issues and how I may be of assistance to your organization, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.octanerecruiting.com for more information.]
(Originally published 3/14/07)
@ChrisFleek provides has over 20 years of experience in HR Management and Recruiting. Please visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/fleek for more information.