Globally, one in three employers struggle to find employees with the skills and experience necessary to meet their needs, and almost one-third cite a lack of experience as a key barrier to filling their open jobs.

Despite the serious shortage of some skills, the disconnect between employers and job seekers is not surprising given how many job descriptions fall victim to the “experience-needed syndrome.” This ailment manifests itself in two ways. In one, job descriptions for entry-level positions ask for experience, which shuts out many young workers. In the other, seasoned workers find the “experience-needed syndrome” becomes the “exact experience needed syndrome.”

As companies struggle to be as productive with fewer workers, they’ve gotten creative about sharing workloads by combining parts of jobs or even whole jobs into one big new job description. This leaves candidates perplexed, trying to decipher what’s needed and determine if they meet the requirements. One job seeker told me that the write-ups are so specific that she would not be surprised to see one read “must have blue hair and hazel eyes”! (Illegal of course, but illustrative.) Those who do have the skills to cover broad, catchall expectations can choose what work they are willing to do (if they can find it). Those who have fewer skills may not be so lucky. A poorly worded posting can cost an employer the best candidates. With job descriptions and skills changing at breakneck speed, here are few ideas for employers and job seekers to understand each other:

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