Job listings usually include long lists of desired skills and experience that would be hard for any candidate to meet. Therefore, it’s important to know when you can apply even though you don’t meet all of the listed requirements. Hiring managers don’t expect applicants to be perfect, but they do expect that you’ll have relevant skills, education or experience. Wasting time applying to jobs for which you aren’t qualified can hinder your job search and lead to frustration for everyone involved. Continue reading for some basic guidelines for when you should-and shouldn’t-apply to a job listing.
When You Should Apply
You have relevant skills and education, but not enough experience. Experience requirements can seem high on job listings, particularly for entry-level jobs. If you meet the education requirements and have skills that can be applied to the job, go ahead and apply. Just be reasonable and don’t apply to a job that asks for 20 years of experience when you have none.
When you’re lacking a couple years experience. As mentioned above, job listings often have high experience requirements. There doesn’t seem to be any true entry-level jobs anymore. If you meet most of the other requirements but lack some experience, apply anyway.
If you have relevant experience, but don’t meet education requirements. In some industries, education requirements are non-negotiable. However, most job listings show the ideal education levels for candidates not the necessary education. Relevant experience can take the place of education, and may be even more important.
When You Shouldn’t Apply
You lack key qualifications. Some qualifications are not negotiable. Hiring managers can be flexible on some things, but not skills or education that are essential to your ability to fulfill the job duties. Sometimes these will be listed under must-have skills or qualifications. In other cases, you’ll know based on the job description. A possible exception is if you are in the process of obtaining the qualification(s) in question.
Your education and/or experience is far below the listed requirements. It’s not a good use of time and energy to apply to a job when there is a large difference in your experience or education versus the listed requirements. For example, if the job requires a graduate degree and you don’t have any secondary education, move on.
The listed job responsibilities are far above your experience or abilities. Applying to jobs that require more responsibility is a great way to move up the career ladder. But if reading the job description makes you feel overwhelmed or you don’t have familiarity with anything mentioned, don’t bother applying. Even if you do manage to get the job, your lack of knowledge will be found out once you start working.