In my personal experience, the job descriptions don’t match up to anything I have done or currently do in many cases. I’ve been recruited in my last 4 or 5 jobs, and, when seeing the description, I always wonder who wrote it and why. It makes no sense.
For example, in my current role, they wanted someone who had 7+ years experience with J2EE, 5 years with Spring, and other nonsense. I wrote Java in one job before this and I only write it maybe 10% of the time in my current gig. They didn’t mention anything about the leadership aspects of the job, nor did they mention any of the other parts of the stack (devops/UI) that I also work on. It’s easier to ask the hiring manager what is really expected of the day-to-day rather than reading some half-baked job listing.
It seems to me that job descriptions describe the ideal skills the employer dreams to solve the problem at the present moment in the company, not the profile of the candidate they need. Actually, I have zero data points (personal experience) to prove me wrong. And that’s why they never match the reality, which is past that original problem they had.
Sometimes I also think recruiters expect people to exaggerate their experience, so they also exaggerate in the requirements to “compensate” the “skill inflation”.
I don’t think there is a recipe that solves the problem. Maybe take the average knowledge of the team and multiply the requirements by a constant K < 1 so one take in consideration the new hire will grow as the current team has also grown.
I can share a similar story having been conscripted to the Finnish Air Forces due to compulsory military service. Before the start of service, six months or so before, there’s always an interview where they ask “so what would you like to do, son?” and after about two picoseconds of thinking I said, “A pilot!”. They, a group of middle-aged military men, nodded and encouraged me to apply.
Many physical and mental exams ensued. I passed every one with flying colours. Unfortunately, back then, this was in -07, the pilot training program required you to have perfect eyesight. Which I didn’t have. I had near perfect eyesight, but this wasn’t enough. Surgical correction was out of the question, as at the ripe age of 19 I didn’t have the means to do so, but it wouldn’t have helped: the FAF rejected, and still rejects, anyone with surgically corrected vision.
So I was rejected, and got to serve the usual kind of military service within the FAF. I wasn’t that bothered by the rejection, as my eyesight was’t exactly something I could have influenced, compared to say, physical fitness.
Surprisingly, in 2013, the FAF relaxed their requirements when it came to visual acuity and began accepting candidates with glasses or otherwise sub-optimal vision. I checked the chart and my eyesight is now way above the minimum. Had I been born six years later and undergone the same qualification process in 2013, chances are I would have been accepted. Instead of a programmer, I would have eventually become a professional military pilot, as many conscript pilots continue into the professional Air Force Academy!
To add to the point in the post, even if the job description lists impossible barriers, such as “perfect eyesight” or “perfect hearing”, the requirements might still evolve over time. With altered requirements I would have been accepted. And no matter the description, like the author says, one should still give it a try, even if the requirements seem impossible to meet. They either are or might be in the future. Never hurts to check in later after a rejection!