The Joy Of Over-Engineered Job Descriptions

Dr Stuart Woolley
Published in
6 min readAug 24, 2022


When HR and Hiring Managers get together it’s a recipe for a whole pot of nonsense, uncertainty, and abject failure.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

We know about hiring managers — those denizens of the management hierarchy that are, on the one hand, somehow directly involved with the hiring process but, on the other, shouldn’t be anywhere near it as they’re as non-technical as a year old wobbling grape jelly¹.

We also know about HR departments — the secret police of the grand game that work against software engineers (and solely for the company) on a regular basis. Their mind control stress-weapons include endless box ticking busywork, company mandatory fun, and repetitive mind-numbing and startlingly irrelevant performance reviews.

Can you imagine what it’s like when they get together and try to hire someone technical? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.


Over enthusiastic Peter principle’d non-technical hiring managers and box ticking performance goal hunting HR departments tend to throw business buzzwords and technical keywords right at the big recruiting wall like steaming piles of spaghetti, hoping that literally anything will stick.

Unfortunately in this case, all you end up with is a great big mess that the developers have to deal with when you’ve hired the wrong person for the wrong job.

Let’s consider the ways that this can easily go, as we like to say in the development community of the grand game, tits-up.

The ‘Closed Time-Like Curves’

Many things are possible in software engineering, but some things are really are impossible within the current laws of physics². One of those things includes time travel the requirement for which commonly occurs on terribly researched job specifications.

This is classically exhibited as
“Requires X years of experience in technology Y”
When technology Y has been in existence less than X years.

I saw this myself back in 2018 or so when an iOS role required ’10 years of Swift experience’ when, in fact, Swift at that point had only been around for 4 years.



Dr Stuart Woolley
Editor for

Worries about the future. Way too involved with software. Likes coffee, maths, and . Would prefer to be in academia. SpaceX, Twitter, and Overwatch fan.