I’m sure you’ve seen the job descriptions that look like they’re seeking professionals who can do everything and then some. It’s widely known that writing a job description in this way can be intimidating and turn off a lot of job seekers. What’s less known is that it turns off job seekers largely along gender lines.
Job seekers need to remember when an employer writes a job posting, they are creating a wish list for a fictional professional known as the “ideal candidate profile”. While some businesses are good at letting job seekers know which parts of their job requirements are must-haves and which ones are wish list items, some businesses are not.
As a job seeker, knowing how to decode the must-haves from the nice-to-haves of a job posting can be hard to do. Fortunately, there are certain guidelines you can follow to help you when deciding whether or not to apply for a role –even if you do not meet all the requirements.
1. Do You Want This Position?
Searching for a new role can be time-consuming, cumbersome, and emotionally draining. There is no harm in taking a chance and applying for as many positions as possible, but you want to be mindful of your time, stress levels, and the consequences of applying.
Protect your time and only apply to roles that are attractive to you. Yes, it’s true, the worst thing an employer can say is no, but if they do want to hire you, do you want to be stuck in a job you don’t like or will struggle daily to do?
If you like aspects of the company/role and feel you can effectively perform the duties of the role, then apply for it. At the very least, you are getting your name in front of decision-makers in an industry you are interested in and gaining application/interview experience to use for future roles.
2. How Many Qualifications Listed Do You Possess?
Even when employers post a wish list of requirements, there are still certain aspects of their role that they need candidates to have. When applying for a job, it is important to know how to read a job posting and determine which skills and experiences are needs and which ones are wants.
If you possess most of the required skills but are missing some of the preferred qualifications, then it is most likely worth your time to apply. Think of what transferrable skills you have that can be used in the new role, too; you don’t want to sell yourself short! Be sure to highlight those skills on your resume and application to make it clear you are the right fit for the job.
3. What is the Culture of the Company?
Beyond skills and requirements, employers are also looking for candidates who are a cultural fit for their company. Employers can train a candidate on the duties of their job, but they cannot always train a personality or mindset to make someone a good cultural fit. For this reason, if an employer finds an applicant who matches their company culture but doesn’t have all the experience laid out in the job description, they may still decide to hire them.
If your beliefs and morals align with the company’s mission, then apply. You can demonstrate that you are a great cultural fit during the interview by doing research on the company and using the information you learned to create talking points.
4. Use Your Network
When applying to a role online, it’s important to understand how recruiters use technology to review resumes. If you want to get your resume noticed, it’s a keywords game.
Some ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) are set up to flag applications through the detection of keywords used throughout a candidate’s application and resume. If you do not have enough of those keywords, you might find yourself missing out on an interview. Despite all the technology in the world today, the best way to make sure your resume gets the attention it deserves is to go through a real-life person.
If you know someone at the company or have a connection to someone who does, ask them to help you get your resume in front of the hiring manager. Once a real-life person has your resume in their hands –recruiter or otherwise –you’ve automatically increased your chances of getting the job.
5. Let your cover letter help you land the job!
If you don’t meet all the requirements for a job, a cover letter is a great way to earn some extra brownie points. Personalize your letter by demonstrating what skills and strengths you bring to the table that would help you succeed in the role. Connecting the dots between your skills and the role’s requirements helps hiring managers see the personality, ambition, and enthusiasm between the lines of your resume.
When you are searching for a new position, it can be intimidating to see a laundry list of qualifications listed for a job description. But remember, to succeed at the game of job searching you need to know how the game is played. No employer expects every candidate to meet their full list of requested requirements/experiences.
When you see a job that appeals to you, but you don’t check all the boxes, don’t be afraid to go for it! The worst an employer can do is pass on your resume. Even though there is no harm in applying, you don’t want to apply just to apply. New jobs should challenge you, but you don’t want them to be so outside the scope of your skillset you struggle to perform them.
Make sure you make your time, emotional capacity, and professional goals your top priorities when job searching. Using these five tips can help you decide if the opportunity you’re considering applying to will open the right doors.