For many people, if they look at a job description and see that they don’t meet job requirements, they won’t apply. End of discussion. But, as you may guess, it’s not the end at all. There’s a lot more to say.
For instance, a job seeker may have a different take on this question than an employer. People looking for a job know themselves enough to see how they might make a job work, without having every qualification. Then again, they don’t want to waste too much time applying to things they have no chance of getting.
Meanwhile employers, for the most part, would prefer if only highly-qualified people who exactly meet job requirements apply. But there’s a few problems with that:
- First, job descriptions aren’t always written well enough to clearly attract the ideal candidate.
- Some skills can be learned by a person with aptitude.
- Softer-skills (how candidate communicates / interacts with others, problem-solving, flexibility, creativity, etc.) are often not well presented. And hard to quantify.
- Previous skills experience isn’t the same as ability to successfully undertake a new employer’s tasks within a new environment. But skills alone are what most automated resume screening and human screeners focus on to select or reject candidates.
Who decides if you even meet job requirements?
Before you ever get to an initial interview (unless you have an in with the company), someone will be screening your resume. And that someone (or something if automated) can be:
- Internal hiring manager
- Departmental representative
- Computer (programmed by humans)
- Anyone else they ask to do it
And although I like to tell you that screeners will always look beyond the details and search for the true nature of a candidate, for the most part they rely on key words and key phrases.
And if they don’t match the job requirements as stated in the description well enough, you may never get seen. And never get a chance to help connect the “I can do the job” dots for them.
Transferable skills can provide a bridge
So does that mean you should just forget about any job where you don’t meet all the requirements? As much as there may be recruiters shouting “YES” (for many reasons recruiters can be extra attentive to exact matches), let me say there are lesser matches worth going after.
If you really feel like the job is right for you, it’s worth thinking about how you might get past the barriers. Assuming you have at least some of the qualifications, you can use your transferable skills to help you meet job requirements.
But you have to make the case for yourself in a wonderfully written cover letter. One where you specifically show how your skills and experience do match. And your resume has to hit as many of the stated requirements as you can possibly show.
Transferable skills can get you the job…
But only if you clearly connect the dots for them!
Also very helpful is trying to find someone to recommend you. Either a person who already works for the company or someone you know who has a connection there. Your professional network and LinkedIn are good starting places.
How do I know this can work?
In my own career, I’ve talked my way into more than one job where I was not 100% qualified. Even one where they required a PhD. (I only have an MBA.) But I used my cover letter to show strong reasons that I could do the job as well or better than anyone else.
Of course, there are companies where you have no chance. And you certainly don’t want to be applying willy-nilly (love that phrase) to every job listing out there. That’s a waste of your time and the company’s time.
But if a job calls to you and you understand what is required — and believe you could do it well — by all means take a chance. Some of my most interesting (and successful) jobs were ones where I didn’t seem to meet job requirements. But I proved that I did.
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