Are you ready for one of the best-kept secrets of the job search process? Unless the person doing the hiring has previously worked in the exact role he’s trying to fill, a fair amount of the job description is guesswork.Think about it: HR managers have to write a description that will simultaneously entice people to apply and ward off those who wouldn’t qualify for an interview. Also, haven’t you heard stories of a person who “met all of the qualifications” being passed over in the final stages for someone who “seemed like a better fit?” Probably so—because a company would much rather hire the candidate with two years of experience who seems like she could hit the ground running than someone with the requisite five years who failed to demonstrate strong communication skills.
So what’s a job seeker who doesn’t quite meet all the requirements in a position description to do?
Ask Yourself if You Could Do the Job
Notice that we didn’t suggest asking, “Do you want the job?” or even, “How much do you want the job?” Honestly, those questions are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how passionate you are about working in a foreign language—if the job requires translating documents, and you’re only conversational, you’re not qualified. Similarly, it doesn’t matter how fascinating you find a company: You shouldn’t apply for a job running its website if you don’t have any of the technical skills required.
Instead, read through the job description and try to get a sense of what someone in the role would do each day. In your mind, break out “public relations experience” into writing press releases, pitching media, and representing a brand. Think of “writing experience” as the ability to write concisely, persuasively, and with proper grammar.
After you’ve worked through the job description in this way, you’ll have a more accurate sense of what you have to offer versus what skills you may be lacking.
If you’re interested in the advertised role and see yourself doing a great job, don’t let a few missing qualifications stop you from applying. You may not be selected for an interview; but you could also be the best person for the job, and applying is the only way you’ll know.