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April 1, 2011
Career Matchmaking: Connecting the Dot-Coms
 
Looking for a date or a soul mate? There are plenty of websites that claim to provide you with the perfect match based on your answers to in-depth profile questions. TV commercials show plenty of couples who found happiness via a mouse and keyboard. You would think that there would be a similar site for job seekers; one that would match them up with the right position instead of merely acting as post clearinghouses.
 
There are plenty of sites and recruiters who claim to find your match, but where are the results when people are having trouble finding workwhile the job boards list thousands of jobs? In Indiana, the state’s Career Connect website claims to advertise more than 50,000 jobs. In my own experience, I’ve found that my skills align with perhaps only one or two of those thousands of postings.
 
Is there a disconnect between the skills advertised and the skills actually required of a particular job? Evidence suggests an apparent and statistical mismatch between what skills job seekers offer and what employers are looking for.
 
The long list of skill requirements in some job postings can be daunting. Creative Director posts often require experience with Flash, HTML, ActionScript, Java, and other coding. Really? Does a company seriously want their CD spending time writing code instead of directing creative, ideation, leading teams, and mentoring?  
 
I posed this question to a company when I saw their listing for designer. I knew the company and the VP of Marketing so I called him. Their ad implied a salary close to six-figures, but he said they were paying closer to 35K. He went on to say that they included a wish list of skills in the posting just to see what they would get. They were surprised with how much high-level talent responded.
 
Really?
 
The problem is that you might be applying for a job for which you think you are ideally suited, but are then left scratching your head when you receive the “you’re not the right fit” rejection email. The employment firm DSS Consulting, Inc. claims that when seeking a position through a headhunter, candidates should ensure that they have the qualifications and experience specified: "Most search consultants would agree that unless you meet at least 80% of the job specifications, you aren't a contender." But how do you do that if the advertisement isn’t really reflective of the job requirements?
 
There doesn’t appear to be a simple solution. But you might try to seek out answers from the hiring manager, like I did with my friend in marketing. If you are qualified for a job, or suspect you are, you have a right to know whether the application process will be a waste of your time. If you are sending out hundreds of resumes a week, you might not mind the “go fish” method. But if you are in a field or geographic location where there are only a few openings that match your skill set, find out what you can. Do you have a friend or acquaintance who has worked or does work for the company? What does the website tell you about the mission of the company and the position’s potential role in it? Does the company look like one that can afford to pay someone in that role six figures (or whatever your asking price might be)? Seek clues wherever you can, even if the job posting seems uniquely tailored to your experience.
 
Like online dating, you can’t always take the posted profile as truth. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper.

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Steve James owned and creative directed an advertising and design studio in Buffalo, NY with the un-snappy name of SteveJamesDesign, Inc. Steve and his family now live in Indianapolis where he worked as a Creative Director and he is currently in transition, flux, metamorphosis, segue, or whatever looking for work is now called.

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