Required: 5+ Years Experience ColdFusion 10

(The title of this post is not a joke, it’s something I read in a real job posting.  ColdFusion 10 has been out less than two years.)

Looking for a job is only exciting for about 10 minutes on the first day you sit down to do it.

All those fresh (to you) job postings with exciting titles like “Analyst” and “Software Engineer” give you a little burst of adrenaline.  Wow, these companies want ME.

And then reality kicks in.  You click on a job title and view the requirements.  They can be pretty depressing, because frankly, they come across as arrogant and snotty.  You see things like, “DO NOT APPLY unless you have met ALL of the above requirements or your application will not be considered!”, and “We are looking for a ninja rock star Python developer.”

Why do they write them this way?  If you look at it from a recruiter’s perspective, it can be an expression of frustration in trying to find the right person for the job.  They’ve probably interviewed a few candidates that were better at bullshitting than coding, and they desperately want to filter those types out from the beginning.

The problem is, there is no way to do that.  They might as well ask: “If you are a dick, a flaky worker or a liar, please do not apply.”

They’re not likely to say, “if you’re fairly confident that you could get yourself up to speed in this job and adapt to our environment in a reasonable time, please apply now!”  For one thing, this would attract a gaggle of also-rans, and it would mean a lot more work for the recruiters.  Their job is to narrow things down to a handful of candidates they can interview in person.

Less imaginative recruiters will simply pile on more requirements, thinking it will narrow the field and ease their burden.  They throw out a lot of babies with the bathwater.

Pretend I’m a recruiter and I’m looking for a Python programmer.  I really want a GOOD Python programmer, so I make a requirement of 10+ years experience in Python.  More experience means a better programmer, right?

I’m going to get several kinds of undesirable candidates when I do this, including burnouts and malcontents.  If a candidate has 10 or more years programming Python, it’s pretty likely they’ve either gotten tired of it or got fired or got restless.  And what if those ten years were spent in one or two Python libraries?  That’s almost as bad as having one year of Python repeated at 10 different jobs.

Why not consider the job seeker having 3 years of C and 2 years of PHP?  I’m willing to bet such a person could learn Python in a few weeks.  It’s completely possible that this candidate is a better programmer IN ANY LANGUAGE than a programmer who’s been hiding in the comfort of a single language for a decade.

In a previous job of mine, the recruiter advertised for a VB.Net developer, and I had some applicable experience.  Once in the personal interview, I was told that the job was NOT programming in VB.Net after all, but it entailed developing in ASNA Visual RPG.

In a rural setting such as mine, there is little or no chance of finding an experienced AVR programmer within this or even an adjacent state.  AVR is very similar to Visual Basic, so the recruiter was smart enough to shop for someone with EQUIVALENT skills.

My first two weeks at the company I spent learning Visual RPG.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning it, and the company didn’t waste those two weeks fruitlessly looking for an experienced AVR programmer they’d have to pay to relocate.

The point I’m trying to make is this.  Why don’t recruiters do the work of finding good carpenters instead of asking for “5+ years experience with Makita cordless drill”?  If the recruiters aren’t coders, well, maybe they should be working more closely with coders.

What do I do as a job seeker when I see job postings with excessive requirements?  I have a couple of choices.  I can consider myself under-qualified and move on, or I can apply anyway and sell the experience I do have in the cover letter.

Here I have a bad habit.  When the requirements are more than my experience, I say something bitter and simply abandon a job posting.  What I should be doing is stopping and asking myself “Could I do an elevator pitch and sell my learning/adapting abilities to bridge the gap?”

The hard part is doing that pitch, especially when every day I skip over scores of job listings asking for uber-talent, each one of them a small impersonal rejection.  All these companies are labeling me unqualified, and I have to find a way to ignore them, stand tall and proudly sell my wares.

I know I’m a good programmer.  I know I’m a team player and a loyal worker.  It’s just hard to get that across to somebody who doesn’t know me.  In the absence of an impressive github repo, the cover letter is supposed to be my elevator pitch, and honestly I suck at sales.

Must find a way to not to.

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About blippoids

Enough about me.
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2 Responses to Required: 5+ Years Experience ColdFusion 10

  1. Chris Hagood says:

    When I did the hiring for one of the companies from my past, I remember reading resumes thinking “this person is WAY more qualified than me!” I went into the interviews thinking they would be insulted because they had countless certifications and supposedly years more experience. What I realized quickly was that they couldn’t write a piece of software to save their lives. They could rattle off all the string functions by name, but had little to no practical experience.

    For me; every job I felt “qualified” for, ended up not being offered to me. The best jobs I have had are the ones I almost didn’t apply for because they looked too advanced.

    • blippoids says:

      Chris,

      Thanks for that! If I look at my best jobs, I too felt underqualified when applying for them.

      Had I been less frustrated when writing that post, I’d have gone more into the problems inherent in trying to measure intangible qualifications via resumes and cover letters alone.

      Perhaps having job applicants answer a technical design problem as part of the application process would help recruiters measure intangibles earlier. But, as with any effective hiring endeavor, you need an actual developer to screen them.

      The more I think about it, my frustration really stems from the entire job search taking place on the web. No stomach-churning cold calls, no using my best penmanship on a paper application, no sitting up straight in lobbies.

      It’s more like Guitar Hero to me. I’m a darn good guitar/bass player in real life, not to brag, but I can’t manage a respectable score in Guitar Hero, even on songs I know by heart. Five-year-olds go flying past me. That infernal game is just measuring something besides real guitar talent.

      All that said, I’ve got to get off my butt and work on my cover letters and open-source presence before blaming the system, flawed though it may be.

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