Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
You may be reluctant to apply for jobs where you don’t have all of the qualifications listed. Should you apply anyway? Great question. The answer requires an understanding of how job descriptions are written and the expectations of the hiring team.
Let’s take a closer look:
- How job descriptions are written: Typically, the hiring manager writes the job description. The description is a profile of the ideal candidate and includes a listing of the ideal qualifications. Considerations include: number of years of relevant experience, education and or certifications, scope of the job and skills needed. Human resources (HR) usually reviews the description and ranks it relative to other positions to ensure parity in salary and responsibilities.
- Are only ideal candidates hired? No! The job description is for the ideal candidate who comes with all of the proven skills and credentials listed. But guess what? The chosen candidate, the one who gets the job offer, on average. has approximately 60-70% of the requirements listed. Hiring managers develop their job descriptions based on a WISH LIST. But most candidates for the position do not bring all of the listed requirements. In fact, if all employees came to their position with 100% of the qualifications, how would they grow and develop. Often those candidates are looked at as over-qualified and it is though they might get bored and leave after finding a more challenging role. Most hiring managers are really looking for that 60-70% fit, leaving room for growth and development .
- Which 30-40% of the ‘required skills’ are really not necessary?? That depends and is often difficult to determine. Sometimes the hiring managers don’t realize their true preferences until they meet that ‘right’ candidate! A recent client was offered a position as senior recruiter even though she did not have the five years of experience required. However, she was fluent in six languages and had lived in several different countries. Turns out her international background was seen as a relevant ‘bonus’ and helpful for their increasingly international recruitment efforts. She got the job with only 50% of the listed requirements!
- How do I know if I should apply??? The best answer is to make a best-guess and err on the side of applying if you have at least 60-70% of the requirements. The thing you often don’t know is: Which of the requirements are must haves and which are nice to have? I had one client with only 30% of the qualifications listed for a public relations (PR) assistant position and yet she was hired. The PR director was looking for a bright, enthusiastic candidate that she could mentor. In most cases, with 60-70% it’s worth a try. Highlight the key qualifications you do have and focus on those in your cover letter, your resume, and in your interview. Emphasize your eagerness to learn and grow. Provide examples of how you’ve been a fast learner.
- Remember: Job descriptions are a wish list for the ideal candidate. Do not be dissuaded if you don’t have all the skills and credentials listed. Remember the 60-70% rule. I compare it to the lists that people often make for their perfect spouse. Does anyone fit those lists?
- Perfect People? Remember that there are no perfect people and no perfect job candidates. Take risks and stretch. Do apply for jobs where you clearly have some strong qualifications and demonstrate enthusiasm, competency and knowledge of the organization and how you will propel them forward.Onward in your career success!! Coach Joan