I find it infuriating when a job seeker, such as myself, spends a great deal of time and energy crafting a resume and cover letter to match a poorly written job posting that neglects to mention key skill requirements. Back in March, I applied for a government position in the parks department in the city where I live. It entailed overseeing events at park facilities, which was a line of work I had done for the last two seasons for a non-profit. It was only a part-time position, but I thought it could be a good opportunity to land a full-time position down the road. In addition to spending over 30 minutes filling out a new applicant profile on the job site, I uploaded a keyword-rich resume and a position-targeted T-letter. I not only met, but exceeded all the listed experience requirements in the job posting.
Just after Memorial Day, I got a call from the event coordinator at the parks department (not surprisingly, the government moves very slowly). He said he’d like to have me come in for an interview. We agreed on a time and a date. Then, I prepped for the interview. Wrote down any and all responses to possible questions: “Tell me about yourself,” “Describe a time when you had to deal with a stressful situation,” and “Was there ever a time you disagreed with a company policy?” (a trick question HR people bring up to probe complacency). With a fresh haircut, I entered the interview full of confidence. It was a two-headed interview, with the event coordinator/potential boss and HR manager firing away questions at close-range. The preparation proved valuable and I handed the inquiry well.
Then, the event coordinator asked if I had any experience using event-scheduling software in my previous job. That was very odd. Although the job posting required previous office administrative duties, which I had years of under my belt, there was no mention of any particular software skills. In response, I mentioned I did have experience utilizing Microsoft Office applications for scheduling projects in the past and I am able to learn new skills in minimal time. By the end of the interview, I thought I was in good shape.
Last Tuesday, I got a call from the event coordinator. He said he appreciated me coming in for the interview, but…. as soon as I heard the word “but”, I knew I didn’t get the job. So as a follow-up, I asked what was the key skill or experience that the ideal candidate had that I did not. He said the candidate had the event scheduling software experience that they were seeking. In addition, the software background they wanted (which would avoid any prolonged on-the-job training) involved a closed-sourced, proprietary software that many municipalities use. In my head, I having a WTF reactionary moment, but the words never surfaced. He did say that there may be something “in the future” and that he’ll keep me in mind if something does comes up.
It’s one thing to read a job posting and realize you don’t meet all the experience requirements. Not getting a response if you’re underqualified is logical. It’s entirely a different thing to find out you don’t meet the requirements after the interview is over. It feels like you’ve wasted a good chunk of time, energy and emotion.
So to all the hiring mangers, HR personnel and recruiters out there, please, check your job posting requirements. Twice. We don’t want to waste your time and you shouldn’t waste ours.