How to Apply for a Job When You Don’t Quite Meet the Requirements

Sifting through job postings can be frustrating when you get to the requirements and realize you don’t meet them all. But that shouldn’t necessarily discourage you from applying. Often, successful candidates meet most but not all requirements, and then do some learning or training on the job after they’re hired. If you’re confident you’ll be able to do the job well despite not meeting all the requirements, that’s a good indication you should apply. Here’s what you need to know about applying for jobs when you don’t meet every requirement the employer is seeking.

Highlight Your Experiences That Support the Job

In many cases, your experience may be what the company is looking for—it’s just not quite apparent to you. For example, if one of the requirements you don’t have is experience leading a team or managing people, think about how you’ve taken on leadership roles in your previous employment and note that on your resume. Maybe you’ve led a project, giving you experience in planning, managing deadlines, and encouraging and inspiring the team to do great work. Or perhaps you’ve trained and mentored junior staff, either formally or informally. Both of these experiences give you very important skills that are necessary for being an effective team leader.

Don’t Overcompensate

Hiring managers will only take a few seconds to look at your resume, and they’re scanning for keywords. A wordy resume can cause the manager to lose interest, so keep it simple. You should certainly note the requirements you do meet, but don’t dwell on them to overcompensate for the requirements you don’t meet. Once you get to the interview, you’ll have an opportunity to talk about how your experience supports the requirement you don’t quite have, or how you’re working toward meeting that requirement.

The Right Fit Can Matter More

When HR and hiring managers are looking at candidates, they’re not only looking at how well they meet the requirements laid out in the job posting—they’re also assessing how well you’d fit into the team and the company. One candidate may meet every requirement but the fit doesn’t seem right, so HR may make an offer to another candidate who only meets 60 per cent of the requirements but will fit in very well with the team.

Network, Network, Network

Putting yourself out there can be uncomfortable, but networking is the number one thing you can do to make it easier to get an interview—especially if you don’t quite meet the requirements. If you’ve met the hiring manager at an event and made a positive impression, they’re going to recognize your name when they see your resume, and take a closer look. Never underestimate the value of connecting with people.

Be Honest and Self-Aware in the Interview

When you get to the interview stage, the hiring manager knows you don’t meet all the requirements, and they will likely ask you about it. Simply saying you don’t have that experience or skill can be quite detrimental. Be honest and acknowledge that you don’t meet that requirement, but then explain what you’re doing to get there—it shows self-awareness, initiative, and a motivation to learn, which are attributes that are valued by hiring managers and companies.

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