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How specific should a job requirement be?

How specific should a job requirement be?

June 15, 2012

This week’s blog is from Nick Middleton, Manager of our Leeds branch:

I was recently working with a highly capable candidate who had very deep knowledge of a particular group of technologies from a specific vendor. But most impressively, he had the manner and general communication skills that would make him highly valuable to any consultancy working in his field.

Because of the niche nature of his skill set it was relatively easy to map out a number of companies that we could approach on his behalf – with the candidate’s agreement we approached to three particular companies. All three showed interest but one actually had a live permanent role that they wanted to interview him for the following day. Great, all good so far.

Or so I thought…

I picked up the phone the morning after our candidate’s interview and on hearing it was with the hiring manager I will not deny that I became quite excited to hear the great feedback he was bound to have for my great candidate! To my surprise, his opening line was that he had been “disappointed” with my candidate and would not be progressing his application any further. I was astounded when I found out what had led to this disappointment.

The candidate only had experience of the niche piece of technology up to version 11.5.8, and consultants “worth their salt” should be fully conversed with version 11.5.9!

In response I stressed that the character and behavioural attributes of the candidate made him stand out above many others and the fact he had worked in the specific niche for so long, through many upgrades and incarnations, the mere 0.0.1 version jump would be a tiny step for him to take. Unfortunately the call didn’t end well, with the hiring manager feeling I didn’t understand my market if I didn’t get the point he was making about the leap. Stunned, I cried into my cornflakes for the next hour.

So why highlight this example?

I suppose I still disagree wholeheartedly with the approach of this particular hiring manager, particularly when the role in question is a permanent position. As recruitment consultants we need to find better ways and more capable tools to demonstrate to clients the value of an individual that goes way beyond the specific technical experience on a CV (or specific sector experience). Only then can we perhaps convince the people prepared to decline someone based on a 0.0.1 version difference to change their thinking.

The moral of this story is that the candidate is now a very successful consultant at a competitor to this organisation, so without a doubt they missed an opportunity.

Have you come across a similar experience? Please share it with us in the comments below!

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How specific should a job requirement be?

Latest Comments

Doug says:

2012-10-10 11:19:58

Yes, another one is when companies ask for five years experience in a technology that has only been available two years.

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