This article was originally posted on my brand new blog The Developer's Dungeon
From time to time, as a matter to keep my eye on the market, I look at job postings to check what is out there. To figure out if my skills are still relevant and check what technology is booming in the job market. I often find myself disappointed that everything still remains the same, the same stupid "REQUIREMENTS":
- Master degree in computer science and 7 years of experience.
- Only Software Engineers with ten years of experience to work on a basic web app.
- Seven years of experience in React(it was released in 2013).
- Knowledge of web, mobile, embedded systems.
- Expert .NET developer with knowledge of Java 7, Spring.
- Speaks English, Dutch, French, German is a plus (I live in Belgium, so I guess they consider speaking these 4 languages as something "Normal").
- Under 30 years old, 10+ years experience.
You would think I am making this up but no, this is all real requirements I found on Linkedin the past week. Would anyone of you consider these requirements realistic?, are these even REQUIREMENTS? The reality is that they are not.
In the sausage factory of job postings, a lot of things could happen. They could be built by someone who has no real information or feedback from the tech team, they just gather some of the technologies used, ask for a random number of years of experience, and that is it. In some cases, the tech team actually reviews the postings, but they want what I like to call "The perfect candidate", sure we would all want a guy with 10 years experience that knows our stack perfectly and wants to work for 10 bucks an hour, it is just unrealistic to expect that someone like that will arrive at our door (or that even exists).
The reality is that most of the time you don't need all those requirements to be hired, you just need to have some knowledge to take on the tasks that they give you and make the company some money, at the end that is all that the company is looking for. You also have to consider that even if those are the requirements there are some big chance that no one likes that will answer the search, they will have to pick someone from the bunch of applicants they received and deal with it. Is at that moment when recruiters and the company realizes that the expectations where unrealistic, once those CV start coming in you just do the best you can with what you have.
I am not saying that you should apply for a senior position if you just started (although the worst thing that can happen is that they don't call you back, that is not so bad right?), but you should apply to every single job you think you can do even you don't meet all the requirements. Maybe you have less experience than what they are looking for, or you just speak English, or you worked with a different stack for many years and you want to make a switch. Just apply, nothing can or will go wrong, again the worst thing that can happen is that they don't answer back, on the other hand, you could end up being hired for a sweet job you would not dream to get in a million years.
Let's say they call you, you get the interview, everything is in your hands now, be straight up honest. Talk about the things you liked from the company and their product, what are you missing according to the job posting but why you think you can still do the job, don't forget to emphasize what can you bring to the table that it could be beneficial for them. I always talk about technology-agnostic knowledge, stuff that is not specific to the stack you are working on, like software architecture, now is time to mention everything that will make you take that new job and be productive in the shortest amount of time possible.
As someone who had been on the other side of the interview process (as an interviewer), I give more value to the willingness to learn and passion than to practical experience with certain tech or a college degree. I want to get to know you and see if we could work together to achieve a specific goal, if you can prove that to me, I will be more than happy to work with you no matter which requirements did you met and which ones you didn't from this "Perfect candidate" that unfortunately most of the companies ask for.