Must-Haves: Mile-Long CV, Low Pay Requirements, Instant Availability

Dana Wilkie

“Progressive employer seeks Harvard-trained neuroscientist and beauty pageant winner. Must be fluent in Mandarin and skilled at tribal basket weaving. Minimum of 10 years’ experience working for high-tech companies. Salary: mid-30s.”

That’s a job description that career coach Nancy Collamer humorously invented to illustrate what she called “impossible job postings”—those that are incredibly demanding and offer little pay. According to Collamer, these postings are “more prevalent than ever.”

Collamer is among many who say that hiring managers have become irrational in their expectations when seeking a new hire: insisting on candidates who meet an unreasonable laundry list of skills, experience and job expectations; failing to understand market realities when offering salaries; and insisting on getting a stellar candidate ASAP. The result: It's taking much longer to fill open positions than ever before, say some career counselors and recruiters.

The problem is that hiring managers can be unrealistic about finding the “perfect” candidate for a job, said University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor Peter Cappelli, author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs (Wharton Digital Press, 2012). He refers to this nearly-impossible-to-snag candidate as “the unicorn.”

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