Design Position Available: Superstar

As technology advances, job openings become a de facto proving ground for absurdly expansive applicant requirements. It is no small wonder job-seekers exaggerate their abilities on their CV's.

The following list of qualifications represent the "minimum" qualifications necesary to even be considered for a recent job opening at an educational technologies media company affiliated with a major state university.

Note: I've chosen not to reveal the school or media company for the simple reason that a friend of mine is one of the co-directors and she insists that these qualifications are perfectly reasonable.

The position available: Designer.

Minimum Position Qualifications

  • BA/BS degree in MIS, computer science or a closely related field AND 3 years of progressively more responsible professional experience in a variety of information technology areas related to the duties assigned OR a combination of education and progressively more responsible professional work experience in an area closely related to this position totaling 7 years.
  • Five (5) years of professional experience in designing and developing online applications and web environments
  • Experience in graphic design
  • Experience in Object Oriented Programming (OOP) across all required languages
  • Expertise with HTML5, jQuery, and CSS3
  • Expertise with PHP
  • Expertise with database design and engineering in MySQL
  • Expertise with ActionScript 3.0 for use in Adobe Flash CS5 and Adobe Flash Builder 4.0
  • Experience with Adobe Flash Media Server 3.0+
  • Experience with Final Cut Studio
  • Experience with Adobe Premiere and After Effects
  • Experience in designing and developing iPhone and iPad mobile applications using iOS 4

I mentioned that I got quite a laugh out of these requirements, stating that "there's no such thing as a computer science major who can design". I was informed that her media company already employs three such immensly talented individuals who are extraordinary developers as well as outstanding designers. Personally, I think it's perfectly safe to assume they embellished their resumes. 

No question, there are some fantastically talented and intelligent individuals working in our industry. But, in my vast experience, I've yet to run into a single individual who bridges the design / development divide completely. Finding an individual who is capable of working equally effectively from the right hemisphere of the brain as he is from the left is rare enough without throwing in the word "expertise". I count myself among that rare group, albeit accompanied by a self-imposed disclaimer, "I know my limits". 

What I find so astounding about the qualiications listed above is the shear scope of development knowledge, languages and applications in which the applicant is expected to be proficient. OOP, PHP, JQuery, MySQL, Actionscript 3.0, Final Cut Studio, Adobe Premier, After Effects, and Cocoa. My head hurts just looking at the list. 

As if that weren't enough, the applicant is also required to be a design superstar who is capable of programming HTML5 and CSS3 and has experience designing and developing for iPhone and iPad.

There may be one person in the entire world who can meet these requirements, but I am certain that there won't soon be a fourth such individual working for one small educational media company. 

However unlikely, I could be wrong.

The Hiring Conundrum

I understand that companies looking for quality help do what is necessary to whittle down the field of applicants. However, the problem with such expansive skill requirements is that applicants are nearly always forced to embellish or lie in order to get their resume in front of someone in human resources. More often than not, requirements lists like these are crafted by committee and the individual responsible for hiring doesn't have a clue what any of the terms mean, let alone can judge an applicant's proficiency based on a resume and smile. The new hire nearly always winds up learning on the job, which isn't necessarily a bad thing except that landing the job required dishonesty and his employer's expectations won't be met until the learning curve is flattened. 

Imagine how long it would take to "test" an applicant's proficiency in any one or all of the areas of expertise mentioned above?

In the end, hiring talent based on a fantastical requirements becomes a double-edged sword that waters down client expectations and product quality industry wide. 


Fellow professional designers and developers, what are your thoughts? Do absurdly expansive minimum skill qualifications like this help or hinder our profession?