Want to find a new job? Stop paying so much attention to the minimum requirements.
I’m certain I’m going to get negative feedback for saying this, but I just have to. Every day (and I really mean every day) I spend at least an hour trying to convince job seekers to do something that seems completely crazy — apply for a job.
Why does it seem crazy? It seems crazy to apply for certain jobs because the job seeker’s work history doesn’t match up 100% with the employer’s job description. The job seeker is convinced that they won’t be considered and it will be a big waste of time (and possibly embarrassing).
So, why would I encourage someone to apply for something that they are clearly not qualified for? I encourage them to apply because they CAN DO THE JOB!
Our educational history and experience are both important. But, do you know what’s more important than which degree you have? That you can do the work. Seriously.
Employers create job descriptions in the most random ways. When I was a hiring manager, I studied job descriptions for other similar positions (to the one I was hiring for). I did my best to compile all the good parts of the other job descriptions I studied. I wanted to be sure the job description was perfect, and that I didn’t leave anything out. I was going to ace that assignment. I’m 100% certain that in the process, I came up with a wish list of qualifications that was a mile long. Did it mean that I wouldn’t consider anyone who couldn’t stand up to all my wishes? No. It was just that – a wish list. It would have been unreasonable for me to expect a candidate to have all those qualifications and I knew it.
Here’s another real life example to demonstrate this point. I recently heard from an employer who is looking to fill a super interesting role. We’re talking fun work, impressive title, great company. The job description is very comprehensive and is what I described above – a wish list. And, the employer knows it. They told me that they put out a long list of skills hoping to attract as many candidates as possible.
(Notice: They are trying to attract as many people as possible — not eliminate as many people as possible.)
I forwarded that great job to a few qualified people. I got an immediate response from multiple job seekers along these lines. “This looks awesome, but I’m not fully qualified to do it. Too bad I can’t apply!”
Do you see what’s happening here? We are assuming the company won’t want to hire us, so we eliminate ourselves from the list of qualified candidates. Then, the company never even hears from us. They don’t know we exist. We have taken ourselves out of the race (not the company).
Let’s think of this in another way. I often say that looking for a job is a lot like dating. At this day in age, let’s be honest — we’ve all tried online dating at one time or another. On sites like Match.com, singles are able to specify their preferences for things in a partner including age, height, hobbies, and musical taste.
But, if a dater comes across someone that seems interesting, they don’t just ignore the profile when they’re not a 100% match in requirements. They send the other person a message. They let the other person know they exist and that there was something about their profile that seemed interesting. Then, the other single (the one being contacted) can decide what they think. Their choice will depend on things like how important those qualities are to them (something you can’t know from a profile).
Job descriptions are the same way. A company may toss in some random requirement that they don’t really care about. If you don’t apply, you’ll never have the chance to be considered. If I could stand up on a table to shout this out, I would.
By not applying, you are not allowing the company to make their own decision about their interest level. You are making the decision for them. You are effectively telling them that you’re not qualified to do a job you know you can do.
Applying for a job often takes just a few minutes. It’s not a huge waste of time. If you think you can do the job, take the time and submit yourself. If you are called for a job interview, it means that the company sees something in your background that’s promising. And, they are flexible on their requirements (something you can’t know from a job description).
If there was only one piece of job search advice I could give, it would be this: APPLY MORE! Put your hat in the ring. The more you apply for jobs you know you can do (whether or not you meet all the “requirements”), the more choices you will have in the end.
You are your own advocate — you are your own salesperson. Do your part and SELL YOURSELF!
Angela Copeland is Founder and Coach for Copeland Coaching, a great way to jump start your job search. Follow her on Twitter @CopelandCoach for tips on finding the perfect job for you.