Last week, while driving to/from parents and funerals (my folks are fine), I had several long talks with my sister, who’s looking for a job. She’s the best salesperson I’ve ever met. She’s great at selling, and stays friendly with her clients over the years. She stopped selling in high tech about 16 years ago (sold Tupperware for a long time), and is now looking again for a job selling in high tech.
She’s having a little trouble moving past the gatekeepers. “You don’t have a Business degree.” True, she has a degree in a particular type of business. “You don’t have recent experience selling products just like ours.” Well, of course not. If she’d been working for a competitor, she would have trouble with a non-compete agreement. “You have too much/too little experience.” Can’t win with that one.
My sister’s run into what I’ve called the laundry list job description, although I’m wondering if a better description is a recipe. She’s good at selling, so she’ll determine a way to move past the gatekeepers :-), but I have to wonder about these hiring managers who have such rigid requirements that only people with precisely those requirements will fit.
It is important to be clear on what your requirements are for a given role, and what you can compromise on and what you can’t. But degrees are not something to be rigid about. And depending on the environment, neither is exact product domain expertise. (You need to expect to teach domain expertise to new hires.)People rarely have linear career growth. Instead, they take opportunities as they arise. It’s more important to see that people learn from their opportunities (and deliver what they are supposed to deliver) than it is to see that they meet some number of years of experience.
So think of what you really want to see in a candidate’s experience — what you want and what you need. And remember that candidates are unique individuals. You might have thought about the job one way, but a great candidate might be stellar in another way. Leave the recipes for baking. You’re looking to hire people. You don’t have to compromise on the candidate, but you may well have to compromise on the candidate’s background. Instead of a recipe, look for experience producing or delivering. Then you’ll know you have a good candidate.