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A recruiter contacted me with a job opening. I gave him my resume. He then said he wouldn't be submitting it because I didn't indicate on the resume that I had experience "Migrating to Windows 11". I don't think this requirement makes sense without more context. Another example might be "Design and developing APIs". In situations like this should I ask the recruiter to explain the details of the requirement? If yes, how should I phrase the question? "This part doesn't make sense to me, can you please get more details"? I find it more often happens with third party recruiters, but sometimes I see parts of a job posting that read like gibberish.

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    Was this a recruiter from the company posting the vacancy, or a third party with no connection to them? Oct 18, 2023 at 3:39
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    @DJClayworth third party Oct 18, 2023 at 6:51
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    Technical job postings are a bit like the old "telephone" game. A first-line manager documents what they need, their manager reworks it, HR re-reworks it, and the third party recruiter reworks it again, while none of them understand the technical parts at all. The result is buzzword-laden gibberish. Be prepared for the real possibility that nobody will able to actually answer your question until you get to a real interview.
    – bta
    Oct 19, 2023 at 0:14
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    You should always ask if something is unclear to you, this goes for all stages and situations in life. Oct 20, 2023 at 6:35
  • I recently submitted my CV to a recruiter, who said I didn't have "agency experience" - I pointed out that out of the 10 roles on my CV, 4 were "agency" roles. My CV was then forwarded to the client. Recruiters are rarely technical, the classic being not knowing the difference between Java and JavaScript.
    – Neil
    Oct 20, 2023 at 9:56

5 Answers 5

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In situations like this should I ask the recruiter to explain the details of the requirement?

Yes. It is reasonable to ask.

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    If they haven't told you enough to make you comfortable with the engagement, tell them so. If they can't fix that, walk away; they're probably just trying to get you into their system to sell you later.
    – keshlam
    Oct 18, 2023 at 13:43
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    Very reasonable. "Migrate to Windows 11" would be an IT job, while "Design and develop APIs" would be software engineering. Two occupations that are only faintly related by the factor "something with computers". Chances are, customer is looking for an underpayed "allrounder". (claim based on personal experience)
    – Fildor
    Oct 20, 2023 at 8:55
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    Good answer for a question that should be common sense and doesn't involve anything special.
    – JorgeeFG
    Oct 20, 2023 at 14:48
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    @Fildor: '"Migrate to Windows 11" would be an IT job' - yes, unless that is a very much shortened version of "Migrate an existing software application to Windows 11 by making use of all the latest APIs, bringing it up to speed for MS Windows 11 compatibility certifications/logos (if that thing exists) etc.". And of course, that is still a superficial job description, because there's a world of a difference depending on whether the software last ran on Windows 10 or on Windows 95. Oct 21, 2023 at 8:02
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    @O.R.Mapper either way: more than enough reason to ask for clarification.
    – Fildor
    Oct 21, 2023 at 8:39
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I'm writing this with respect to consulting firms, but this may apply in some ways to corporate recruiters as well.

You can indeed ask for more details, but don't expect them to really know what you're talking about when you start sharing details about your work experience. They are just screening you on behalf of the account manager who deals with the end client.

Some of the recruiters who call you up are literally reading from a script. A brand-new recruiter is taught to read requirements from the account managers, and match up the requirements with keywords on resumes in front of them. They may have zero concept of the actual work involved for the job's requirement. Unfortunately, this can cause some conflict when you understand the written requirements better than the recruiter does. You might decide to explain how what's on your resume matches the written requirements, but every once in a while you'll just run into someone on the other end who's not too bright and who isn't going to understand, and you can't take it personally if that person decides not to work with you.

Recruiter turnover at some firms is VERY high. Don't take it too seriously.

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I see lots of requirements that don't make sense. I wouldn't be surprised if someone asked for "three R's: Reading, (w)riting, (a)rithmetic" and complained that I didn't mention it in my CV. There are requirements where the honest answer would be "I vaguely remember doing this ten years ago, but nobody would do this nowadays because there are much better tools available". On the other hand there might be a situation where someone has tons of code written totally outdated technology and needs someone to modernise it.

But as a software developer, "migrating to Windows 11" would mean to me "taking software that works just fine on Windows 10 and making all changes necessary to make it work on Windows 11" (no idea what that involves, not my area).

"Design and develop APIs": Unless you apply at Apple, Microsoft, Red Hat, Google where they actually have people doing this, that's most common for server developers, where "API" means what data a client can ask for, and what data the server provides, in which format, and so on.

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  • I've heard the three 'R's were originally "readin', 'ritin' and reckonin'", but can't find source.
    – mcalex
    Oct 19, 2023 at 5:44
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    @gnasher729 I don't want to sound rude, but designing and developing APIs is a daily occurrence with any backend developer. Those are not restricted to the big five (at all) but rather any (serious) web app development shop will have some of those.
    – arne
    Oct 19, 2023 at 7:28
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    @arne And not just for back-end developers. The term 'API' covers not only REST APIs or other web-based APIs but the interface to any software library is also an API. If you're creating any library that will be open-sourced or used by anyone outside of your own small team, then you will need to put some thought into how you design the API of that library. Oct 19, 2023 at 16:06
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    @SeanBurton You're absolutely right.
    – arne
    Oct 19, 2023 at 22:57
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    @SeanBurton: Even if your library/component/sub-project is going to be used just within your own small team, it will need some kind of a more or less well-designed API if you hope for any separation of concerns in the software and the people who maintain it. Oct 21, 2023 at 8:06
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It is definitely reasonable to ask for clarification, but you have to be careful about how you do it. In a lot of cases, the recruiter you're dealing with doesn't have the specific knowledge necessary to understand what clarification you could need. There's a good chance that saying "This part doesn't make sense to me" will get you flagged as someone who doesn't have the required experience, even if the requirement they've listed is indeed nonsensical. Whereas asking a question like "what kind of APIs? Would I be involved in database management as well or just the interface?" or whatever is appropriate is more likely to appear to those outside the field like you know what you're talking about.

Basically, you should just be specific about what exactly you want clarified. If you can't come up with a good way to ask, consider whether you actually need more information at this stage - a lot of the specifics are often handled at later interview stages.

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Your frustrations are valid, but don't let them get to you.

Seeing as Windows 11 is barely two years old virtually nobody who is not involved with Microsoft has any real experience in it. You are correct that this critique is rather cynical and ill-informed.

Designing and Developing API's is rather complicated and difficult Computer Science task. Depending on the size and how complicated the API in question is this could be a quite large project.

Also, designing and developing is strictly speaking not the same job. If the API is built on an even just slightly large scale that these two distinct part of software development would not be done by the same person.

I'm also not sure if you would find recruitment specifically for it. API integration and usage can be an important part of a tech companies operation, but it is only tangentially part of what the company sells.

In the case of Reddit there attempts to monetize API usage has come with major backlash and has been rather disastrous for them.

The YouTube API may very well be important to the Google company, but Google does not sell API's. I suspect that if Google wants to allocate more man-power to it, that man-power would probably be sourced internally. I can imagine this is probably not something they want somebody new to the company to work on.

Now using API's is a good skill, but making them is niche. I do believe a good programmer can learn anything given enough time, but I would not worry about learning it unless the institution who signs your paycheck would want you to learn it.

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