Excessive, Unnecessary Job Qualifications

job ad in newspaper
Rob Friedman/E+/Getty Images

As a screening device, an increasing number of companies are listing excessive and unnecessary qualifications in job postings. Called pseudo-requirements, these are merely devices to reduce the pool of applicants.

MBA Example: ​

For an increasing number of positions over the years, an MBA is listed as a prerequisite, even though it is completely unnecessary. In many cases, the necessary skills and knowledge to fill the position must be obtained largely through on-the-job training and thus an MBA is largely irrelevant.

In these situations, the MBA also is being used as a screening device that substitutes for job-related aptitude testing and/or a more subjective evaluation of the job applicant. In this regard, the MBA is a pseudo-requirement.

Automated Resume Screening: ​

Pseudo-requirements are increasingly being used in conjunction with recruitment software, also known as screening apps, to reduce a pile of resume submissions to a more manageable number that will get human review. Screening apps score resumes based on the presence of certain keywords and sometimes also on formatting. See our related articles on how to beat hiring software and on resume keywords and buzzwords that can hurt you.

Circumventing Pseudo-Requirements: ​

Job hunters should not be deterred by them. Instead, applicants should try to make early contact with the hiring manager or another person involved in the hiring process, in an attempt to make sure that one's resume is not rejected based solely on an algorithm or a keyword search.

Tailored Requirements: ​

Large, bureaucratic companies often have human resources (HR) departments that require job openings to be advertised and open (at least in theory) to competitive applications, frequently including both internal and external candidates. If so, and if the hiring manager has a handpicked person (frequently an internal candidate) in mind for the position from the moment that it comes open or is created, he or she may tailor the advertised job requirements to fit the resume of that person, thus eliminating all or most competitors for the position.

In such a case, it probably is impossible to circumvent the posted requirements, even if they are pseudo-requirements. See our related discussions of phantom job postings and the hidden job market.