Tag Archives: job posting

Wanted: One Unicorn

If you’ve tried to hire IT resources recently, you know that, in addition to a generally low unemployment rate nationally, in IT, the rate is practically negative.

So I got a request in my inbox today wondering if i would be interested in a program manager position in charge of a Program Management Office in a large national company.

I took a look at the job req and busted out laughing.

Unicorn Picture

For those who aren’t familiar with program management, which is what I do, generally these managers aren’t in the trenches, wrangling code, creating architecture and managing techies.

They tend to be big picture people who rely on project managers and development managers to handle the technical details. Even at that level, these managers aren’t necessarily as steeped in the tech as the people they manage.

Take a look at the minimum qualifications for the program manager position, and maybe you can see why I laughed out loud:

Minimum Qualifications

  • Education:
    • Four-year college degree in related field or equivalent combination of education and experience
    • Graduate degree preferred
  • Experience:
  1. At least 7+ years of professional experience as a Project Manager or equivalent position responsible for defining and managing project scope, timelines, profitability, and effective delivery of digital solutions
  2. Strong grasp of current web technologies as well as related business issues
  3. Experience in agile/iterative environments
  4. At least 2 years experience managing FTE project management resources. Including administrative duties, reviews, and career planning.
  5. Experience solving business problems with technology
  6. Excellent written and oral communication skills
  7. Must be confident working with all levels of management, and understand the demands and responsibilities of those roles
  8. Experience effectively working with external clients and internal client teams
  9. At least 2 years of experience working on projects that include 50% or more of the following:
    1. Informatica
    2. Cognos
    3. Numerous programming languages (Java, JavaScript, C#, PHP, Objective-C, Python, Ruby, etc)
    4. Enterprise level content management and/or collaboration tools (Adobe CQ, SharePoint, Jive. etc)
    5. Content distribution networks and other media delivery platforms such as Scene 7, YouTube, Bright Cove
    6. Browser performance testing, load testing
    7. Rich internet development (AJAX, Flash, Flex, Silverlight)
    8. Mobile development (Phone Gap, Titanium, mobile web and application development)
    9. Social integration or Apps with Facebook, Twitter, etc.
    10. Web analytics packages (Google Analytics, Omniture / SiteCatalyst, Unica)
    11. Search engine optimization techniques and tools
    12. Behavioral targeting or end-to-end marketing optimization (CRM type tools, A/B testing, etc)
    13. E-commerce or other monetization technology integration (experience with Insite a plus)
    14. Integration tools & techniques (ESBs, Orchestration, SOA, XML, JSON, SOAP, REST, etc)\
    15. UNIX, Windows, and Mac Oss
    16. Hosting / Cloud / SaaS offerings
    17. Vendor management
  • Licenses / Certifications / Registration:
    PMI certification a plus

This is hilarious because to require experience with all of these technologies and tools for a program manager, who manages project managers and other high level resources, is insane. It’s like asking a grocery store manager to be familiar with several different types of forklifts in use in the warehouse.

The job posting also ensures that nobody in their right mind would join this organization that asks for a program manager but has no idea what one does.

This trend toward tremendous specificity in job postings has been accelerating for years. It’s one reason why businesses complain that they can’t find talent with the right skills. It reminds me of when I was hiring a Java programmer back in 1997. Java was a new language then, having had an initial release in 1995, and the development kit released in January, 1996. It was hot, and everybody thought they needed experienced Java programmers.

I was no different. I needed to create a job posting, and so I cruised the job boards looking to see what others were putting in their Java programmer postings. I came upon one that made me LOL.

In addition to a laundry list of many very specific technical qualifications, was this line:

Must have 5 years of Java development experience

In 1997, the only people on Earth with five years of Java experience were the people at Sun Microsystems who began creating the language in 1991. And neither I nor the clueless job poster could afford them.

So what this job posting, and so many more like it, is really saying is: “We want a unicorn, a mythical beast with super coding powers that doesn’t really exist.”

Forget the Unicorns

If you’re a hiring manager, take a look at what you’re asking. Don’t throw in requirements for every technology that your organization  supports. Accept that plenty of good people without every requirement can quickly come up to speed on whatever you’ve got.

Because chances are, you can’t afford to hire a unicorn.