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Career Development Denise Alexander

Do I Need to Meet Every Qualification to Apply to a Job?

Just because it’s not a perfect match on paper doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t bring value to the position.

“I’m not sure I meet the qualifications for this job.”

“They’re asking for more experience than I have.” 

“They want someone who already has a degree.” 

Have you ever looked at a job posting and experienced feelings of intimidation and immediate regret?  If so, you are not alone in this experience.  

Usually, the first question you ask before applying for a job is: what are the position's requirements? But before you stress about what requirements you meet, remind yourself that these are just guidelines for what the hiring manager is seeking in a specific role. These parameters are put in place to help them find the ideal candidate. Specifically, these can include things like years of experience, education, certifications and more. However, most hiring managers are also realistic and understand that no one candidate may possess all these skills simultaneously and that the best fit for the role might not necessarily perfectly match their job description.  

With that said, ask yourself, “What can I bring to this role?” Consider applying for the job anyway even if your background doesn’t precisely match their description. Just because it’s not a perfect match on paper doesn’t mean it’s not the right match and that you wouldn’t bring value to the position. To evaluate if this position is a good fit, take the following into account: 

Consider the relevant transferrable skills that you do have. 

Even though you may not have previously held the specific job title you are applying for, you may still possess the skills necessary for the role. Consider if any of your prior work experiences involved similar responsibilities, and if so, emphasize them in your resume and cover letter.

For example, consider that you previously worked in marketing, but are now seeking an entry-level role in human resources. In this scenario, even though you may not have specific human resources skills, be certain to emphasize your experience in promoting and successfully advertising opportunities to gain attention to your application. Make it a point to consider any non-work-related, relevant experience that you may have from experiences like volunteering and community service.

Convince them that you can do the job. 

By applying, you’re telling the employer you can do the job — now it’s time to convince them! Prove to your potential employer that you have the knowledge, ambition and motivation to excel in this role. Learn as much as you can about the company and what they do. You should come to the interview with some ideas that can help contribute to their business — if you aren’t the perfect fit, overprepare so they still see you are the right fit. Preparedness will not only aid you in your job search, it’s a trait that will be recognized and valued by hiring managers.

Leverage the power of professional networking. 

Ask yourself, “Do I know anyone who either works at this company or knows someone who does?” If so, make it a point to contact them to see if they can advocate on your behalf to get an interview with human resources or a hiring manager.  

Additionally, see if you can find a current employee willing to serve and as a referral to endorse your skills or recommend that you be considered.  If you are unable to find anyone within the company willing to assist, see if you can get a recommendation from a previous employer or professor. A glowing recommendation from someone well-respected can have a tremendous impact on the hiring manager and overshadow any hesitation they may have in offering you the job.

Thoroughly research the company. 

Lastly, to stand out regardless of your work experience, make it a point to research the company thoroughly. This enables you to demonstrate your interest and familiarity with the company, which could position you as a stronger candidate. The company will be impressed by your interest in learning about who they are and its goals and mission! The more you show that you value them, the more they will see you as the candidate they can’t let get away.

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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