Today on twitter I was directed to a Job Description while being asked if there was anyone could possibly meet all the “requirements” that were listed:

At least 3 years of experience in MBS Expert and MBS processing. BA in C.S. or related disciplines. Proven leadership skills in technology, project management, and communication. Proven track record in design, development, debug/trouble shooting of complex software systems and logic. At least 5 years in the relevant technologies: C, Motif, SQL, Sybase, Oracle, Java, J2EE, browser-based GUI technologies such as JSF and AJAX, Solaris, Linux, GCC. CVS, Make, Ant. Shell scripting. Must be a team player, have excellent organization, planning and communication skills, excellent in time and issues prioritization and management. Must se self-managed and results oriented.

Now, the way my company does business a few of us here actually come pretty close to meeting these requirements with the exception of the “MBS Expert” and the “Motif” items. I’ve never used either of those. Plus I am opting for the AJAX option over the JSF for “browser-based GUI technologies.” This seems like a pretty ambitious list of traits they are looking for someone to have 3 or 5 years of experience in.

I also see that this job is in the financial services and securities industries. As someone who has had the opportunity to work with the financial services industry I have to imagine they are also looking for someone who already understands the business language; and trust me it is an entirely different language than is used in pretty much any other industry. This additional unspoken requirement really limits the pool of candidates even more.

It seems to me that the people this company wants to hire are already working for someone and they aren’t out actively looking for employment.

I wonder, do ads like this really work? Do they help companies actually find someone or do they make them so specific that they don’t even get a good pool of candidates applying. I mean, is it really necessary to have 5 years of Motif experience or can you just pick it up as you go since you are strong in everything else. Or what if you’ve just been a backend developer - would you really need 5 years of AJAX experience to be a strong, positive contributor to the projects they are hiring for? I doubt it.

Finally, it seems to me that most jobs people want aren’t advertised this way and most candidates that companies want aren’t found this way. Instead word of mouth seems to be the trick which brings back the old adage; “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Sure, you need to your stuff but I doubt, for many jobs, that you need such a specific skill set to be a good candidate.

If we can find someone with 5 years of proven development experience where they are creating good tests and code in any language then they will probably be a good candidate for a project. Even when that project is in a language the candidate hasn’t used. Just like everyone else we look for smart people who can get things done. If they have those traits they will learn what they need to learn in order to get the job done right, on time, and on budget.

I think the company that put out this ad would be better served having a more generic set of skills they are looking for and then narrowing down the field via interviews and then finally paying a few candidates to work with them for a week or so to see what they are really capable of.