Companies are looking for someone with 100% of the criteria in their job description,” says a job seeker this week.

This prospective candidate is taking the right actions to fill the gaps in her resume. Through her interviews, she identifies what is missing and advances her skills in specific software training to be more competitive. However, she continues to come up short.

This is the second time I have heard a similar comment about employers who have unrealistic expectations in the last few weeks.  It is a source of frustration for candidates and I have to think for the companies too – after all, they are sitting with vacancies.

Another job seeker tells me about his recent interviews.  He currently works in a highly specialized technical area.  Yet, as he interviews with companies, he sees a disturbing trend.  There is an expectation that their ideal candidate will be proficient or expert in many specialized areas.

His comment is, “There is no way someone can do everything the company is looking for at the level of proficiency they want. They want three people in one. I find myself educating companies on how to write a job description that reflects what is possible.”

It seems like an oxymoron to me. How are you a specialist when I want you to be a generalist who is expert in many narrow areas? It leaves you thinking, are companies really wanting to hire someone?

So, let us test this theory.

Over the last year, employers have cut back headcount significantly. Often when this happens, employers cut too deep or make reductions in areas that hurt business results. The effects of these decisions may not show up immediately. Eventually, the loss of skills and inability to get work done starts to torpedo sales, forcing them to create a recovery plan.

There is only one problem – headcount is still under scrutiny. The manager decides to put everything he is missing into one job description, hoping to get one position approved for the several positions he lost earlier this year.

He realizes there are a number of unrelated technical skill deficiencies and he has the impossible task to find someone meeting all the qualifications. Nevertheless, at least he has a position he is recruiting unlike his peers who are doing without!

It is time to acknowledge the manager has created the Superhuman job description.

The job posting languishes as recruiters, human resources and the manager pile though resumes and candidates to find the perfect match. It will probably not happen.  The position remains open, efficiency suffers and the lack of manpower continues to erode business.

It might be time for companies to be more realistic on what people can do. There is never a perfect match, even if you think you have it, chances are you will think differently after you hire the person.

Companies who realistically define and prioritize core skills to fill their glaring gap will be in a better position to be successful more quickly. Taking this approach allows managers to reassess if other skills can be grown organically or if they need to reach outside again. It seems somewhat simple to me, what do you think?