We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A friend of mine who has been in and out of work for the last few years contacted me today because I have a connection with the president of sales in an organization seeking someone with his skill set. My friend asked if I'd make an introduction. I told him there was a bit of a catch. My connection is old, I hadn't worked with him in 15 years, and I last spoke with him 3 years ago. I was hesitant to just call up and tell him about my friend who would be a great hire by his organization. As we discussed potential ways for me to make the contact, my friend explained the job had been open for some time. He noticed it a few months ago, then it was gone. It reappeared and was again removed from the listings. When he saw it recently he realized either they were having problems filling the job, weren't sure what kind of candidate they wanted, or were looking for a "purple squirrel" - something that doesn't exist. I laughed and suggested that it would be wise for him to speak with my old colleague and perhaps find out more about the organization, which offered me a respectable way to make the introduction as an informational interview.
The "purple squirrel" comment made me laugh because it's perfectly descriptive. I've been involved in many job searches for "purple squirrels." Watching the evolution of the job listing, from purple to brown or gray, as different candidates are interviewed can be alternately frustrating and comical. It's mostly annoying and aggravating, though.
On the other hand, as I pointed out to my friend, you can always have a purple squirrel if you have enough dye and the willingness to hold down the squirrel while you change its colors. It's not a good way to run an organization, but I've seen that happen, too. Happens every day in politics, which is probably why the process of electing a leader is about as enjoyable as the job search for that "purple squirrel." Not only are we trying to find one, but after we elect one, the leader usually becomes the one trying to inflict the dye job on the population.
purple squirrel is a good description, and it's exactly what companies are doing.
Except ever more often they do it deliberately.
They either put up a shopping list of requirements they know nobody will match in order to push for lower compensation during the salary negotiations ("well, you don't match all the criteria we based the listed compensation on so we have to compensate for that") or they use the non-existence of the listed ideal skill set as an excuse to import cheap labour from abroad that has the actual skill set they want (which is probably completely different) rather than pay more to hire that actual skill set locally.
Oh I did. I always planned to. That wasn't the issue. The question was two-fold. 1. How do I contact someone who I have had extremely limited exposure to and ask them to do a favor? 2. How can that favor be positioned in such a way that it's not off-putting?
That's why I usually ask a number of questions before I make a call. By doing it this way, it's nothing more than an informational interview, which benefits my friend since he clearly needs more insight on the company, and by having the informational interview, he can gain a contact with enough jack to push the resume close to the top of the stack (assuming the call goes well).