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I see this too often. They need one guy who is proficient in:

  1. Assembly
  2. C/C++ (sic!)
  3. Python
  4. Delphi
  5. C#
  6. PHP
  7. SQL
  8. Joomla
  9. Drupal

... and so on. Why?

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9  
Seeing this in a job advertisement is helpful. It helps you to know which jobs not to apply for. –  Adam Crossland Oct 26 '10 at 15:09
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After having examinated so many resume, they thing it is normal to ask for such stacks. –  mouviciel Oct 26 '10 at 15:23
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And they want 10+ years in each, even though some weren't even invented 10 years ago. –  webbiedave Oct 26 '10 at 16:15
    
My favorite is when they do something like this: "1. PHP, 2. HTML. 3. Adobe Dreamweaver, 4. Macromedia Flash". Excuse me? –  Stephen Oct 26 '10 at 21:59
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I've seen a case where they needed a junior web developer with knowledge in PICK BASIC, on top of knowing IIS and UNIX systems. On the other hand this junior job pays 65k. I treat them as grab bags- you won't get to do everything and whatever it is, is a surprise! –  Chris C Sep 30 '11 at 19:37

8 Answers 8

up vote 21 down vote accepted

HR created the job advert and don't know what is required so tack on everything they have ever seen. It is generally a reason for me to ignore the advert.

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This is the correct answer in 99% of all cases. As well as my preferred response to the advert. –  Stephen Oct 26 '10 at 14:53
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Seen this happen so many times!. Back in the earky 1990's when I managed a Technical team I would specify what skills I wanted placed in adverts. It would then go to the HR Dept and they would change it to what THEY thought it needed. HR was then mystified when either no-one applied, or I rejected the CV's on the grounds that none had the skills that I needed. What a waste. –  Simon Knights Oct 26 '10 at 14:54
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Good point. HR is spewing out buzzwords. I've seen ".Net, minimum 5 years experience" back in 2005. I can imagine they didn't get many qualified applicants. The very first .Net release was in 2002. –  dbkk Oct 26 '10 at 17:32
    
Yup - saw a requirement for "5+ years of WPF experience." –  Wonko the Sane Oct 26 '10 at 20:37
    
I wish I could mark multiple answers, because there are many different good ones. –  Tamás Szelei Oct 27 '10 at 14:29

Probably because they laid off 4 people and want to replace them with 1 to save money. I've seen it happen lots of times where a corporation will cut too many people during layoffs and then realize that they have to hire someone to do a WHOLE bunch of things.

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@Downvoter - adding a comment goes a long way to explaining your displeasure and also providing insight to what may have been missed in the answer. –  Walter Oct 26 '10 at 22:30

This is also a sign that the inmates may be running the asylum. That is, there is probably weak or no management of the programming team and everyone is using their pet language instead of standardizing one or a few complementary technologies.

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For sure if you interviewed there you would want to know the reason behind the mix of languages. Is it better, though, if the clients are choosing the languages, not the developers? –  Kate Gregory Oct 26 '10 at 15:02

Personally I think it's likely to mean one of two things:

  1. Whoever put the spec together has no idea what any of that means and just looked at a bunch of other people's programmer specs and picked a few things at random from them.
  2. Or...they have a number of teams/projects and actually they'd be happy with just a subset of those skills but have put them all in 'just in case' after advice from their HR department.

Either way I think it's a bad idea to do this from the perspective of the employer - and I have no idea why this is so common...

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It is so common because of laziness or ineptitude on the part of the HR dept, or the manager, that placed the advert. –  Simon Knights Oct 26 '10 at 14:56
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#2 is probably the case - they put in the qualifications of their dream candidate and then accept someone who only knows some of those technologies. Thats always been the trick to reading job postings... people should apply so long as they meet at least half or so of the qualifications. –  GrandmasterB Oct 26 '10 at 18:14

Most hiring managers are uncertain about future of a project. He/She will always think, if this project doesn't work out, can my "resources" be useful in other projects? Typically during such interviews, the main focus will be on the immediately required technologies/skills, but the doubtful manager will always check if he/she can get more mileage.

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You assume they're putting any thought into it at all. –  Stephen Oct 26 '10 at 14:53
    
I personally know few managers who think this way. Risk management is part of their job. They think, this is one of the ways that they can reduce the risk of hiring someone with not so appropriate skill-set. –  aufather Oct 26 '10 at 16:44
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Risk management gone wrong. I guess they never heard the phrase jack of all trades, master of none. –  dbkk Oct 26 '10 at 17:33

They may want one person who can do everything, and be a team of one, or they may want you to join a team of ten. Either way, you might use different skills on different days. I once stepped into the office of one of my staff and told him we'd had an emergency call from a client about something being broken on a live site and could he please take a look at it. He asked me a few questions and then said "I'll do it, but I just need to go on the record that this will be my fourth language today. And it's not lunch yet."

There most certainly are jobs where you are asked to support a range of products written in assorted languages. If you know only one you probably wouldn't enjoy the job even if you convinced them you were a fast learner. But if you love roller coasters, a job description like that is fun - and you know you won't have to compete with as many people!

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+1 True. But even with that in mind (and what you described is quite possible case) the above list in my opinion is too "wide". I can see that it engulfs web development and databases, maybe something else ... but I cannot see then where assembler would fit in that bunch. –  Rook Oct 26 '10 at 14:55
    
If you really saw that list (and it's not just an example of the phenomenon) it's possible that some of the entries are markers for "is a smart person" - depending on the age of the hiring manager the belief "all smart programmers know assembler even if they never use it" may be involved. Or heaven help you they may have some library of assembler to maintain. Either way, you probably want to run away fast. –  Kate Gregory Oct 26 '10 at 14:59
    
But can anybody be really professional in this many fields? Sure, I know a handful of languages myself, but I'm only proficient in two. –  Tamás Szelei Oct 26 '10 at 15:09
    
I really saw this list. Maybe not accurate, but assembly and python was definitely there. –  Tamás Szelei Oct 26 '10 at 15:10
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You can almost certainly be more proficient than your interviewer in most of them :-) - I think with a laundry list like that you can say "I use [Perl or whatever] a few times a year when I have to - I remember most of it and will get by if you're just maintaining a working system" for some of the items on the list. It's better than spelling it Pearl on your resume and knowing nothing. –  Kate Gregory Oct 26 '10 at 15:11

Because it chases away the inexperienced candidates who don't know that they'll accept someone with just half of the requirements, minimum 5 years experience can be had in 3, and Computer Science Degree or related field means any degree at all.

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one more thing to note is the flood of off-shore and Indian developers in the market place. I have run many teams and have hired such a person to take care of some legwork that no one wants to do since the price is right.

in looking at such candidate's resume you will find one of two things. either a resume of a 6th grader you can use as scratch paper or an essay of over 6 pages filled with everything they did in their entire career. in such a resume you will likely find a section listing technology in an excel-like table. I have seen this section alone take half a page and list everything from JAVA, to DotNet and Ruby... with every database known to man - i think you get the point.

on top of everything these candidates are very willing to take half the salary of other workers and will without shame express this on an interview.

this is a dangerous mixture when you figure in HR because they will set expectations and salary caps based on these types of experience.

then the cycle goes... 2 month pass and the guy can not finish a single project or unit of work and is let go. then HR goes into a mad dash trying to replace the person and then we are back at square one except the pay for the job has dropped by 20% this time around.

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