FinancialGuy Writes!

Several of my recent posts have related to the “skills mismatch” in Europe. In these times of high unemployment it seems right to do so and I clearly recall the emphasis placed on education during the eSkills launch a few weeks ago (I wrote about it here).

There are, however, two sides to every story. For every story about a qualified person looking for a job, there is a story about an employer with ridiculous expectations. Just to be clear, I mean ridiculous bordering on the insane.

When I used to work in Brussels, I used to joke with friends that some positions contained “fluent Estonian a plus” when the job descriptions being advertised were in a class of their own. You know the sort, we have all seen them, they seem to want a person like you but to a degree of expertise that perhaps only one person in the world holds. Eighteen years of work experience in a twenty-five year old…

Employers seem to wonder why their positions remain open despite the fact that their advertisement would make a chess grandmaster feel intellectually inferior. Or, of course, there are the other adverts for which recruitment consultants in the UK are experts. These are the adverts that demand perfection in an applicant, stressing how the employer is a “Tier 1” this or a “world class” that, but contain four spelling and syntactical errors in two hundred words. “We hire only the best”, apart from the idiot that does our recruitment advertising…

There is a reason for this rant. Your author has just seen an advert in today’s “Sunday Times” in Malta for an “Online Marketing Specialist”. Those that know me – maybe even you? – will know that I am an Online Marketing Specialist and just a hobbyist in EU affairs.

The advert requires expertise in SEO, PPC, SEM, Social Media, CRM, JV negotiation and all sorts of other things that companies like (being a team player, determined, sales, target focused, etc etc) and I’d guess that I could do – and prove it – perhaps eighty percent of the position. It is pretty specialised and I am pretty specialised. I would imagine that there are very few people that could fill the role as described because it requires a combination of skills that you don’t tend to see in one person. (Even I’m not that specialised…) Even more, the company is an online poker site, which means that they need even an more highly specialised individual because many of the skills they want are different in the online gambling world to the rest of the internet.

Anyway, that’s all well and good, but they also want “basic knowledge of the Japanese language” and “Extensive online marketing experience in the US and Japan”. Here in Malta, I’d guess that means that they have advertised to at most two people, but more realistically, none. As I mentioned above, ridiculous bordering on insane.

To me, this sounds like a marketing mistake – paying to advertise in a newspaper to a prospective audience of zero. Poor ROI. Someone that could do this role would most likely already have some side projects and incomes in place and so not actually need a job. Just like me. This means that the benefits need to be pretty darn strong to tempt us back into an office with politics, wearing a suit, a commute, an annoying boss, no salary increase despite doubling revenues and on and on. Instead, they breach one of the fundamental rules of advertising by writing copy that is all about them with no “What’s in it for me”. There is no mention of salary, benefits, pension, or for that matter, lessons in Japanese.

So I wonder what we can do. It is all very well that the European Commission wants to see people better educated and have more computer related skills. That can only be good for the European economy. However, I would suggest that they also need to work on the other side of this particular coin. Employers need to get real and understand that the “superstar” they want to triple their business while they are in Majorca on holiday may not actually exist and if he or she does, they won’t want to work the requested miracles for 20,000 per year.

A quick look at the job section of any newspaper reveals lots of vacancies. Many of those potential employers seem to be looking for Superman. If the skills mismatch in Europe is to be repaired, someone somewhere needs to start addressing this aspect and finding a way to get employers back into reality and employing again.

Now that is off my chest I am going to email this to the online gambling firm 🙂

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