Job seekers often wonder whether it makes sense to apply for jobs when they don't possess most or all of the qualifications. Sometimes, it makes sense to give it a try. In other cases, you may want to save your time and spend it applying for jobs that are a better fit for you particular set of skills and abilities.
What to Consider Before You Apply
Although no one answer fits all candidates and all situations, there is some general advice worth considering before you start applying for jobs that may not be a strong match for your qualifications.
You Don’t Know Who Else Applied
Candidates can never know who the competition is for a particular position. Employers share the ideal qualifications in job postings, but don’t always receive applications from people who meet all the requirements.
You may be as qualified as everyone else who applied, which will give you a chance to get selected for an interview.
How Much Do Want the Job?
A question you should ask yourself is, "How attractive is the job"? Evaluate how fully the job meets your criteria for an ideal position.
Even if a job is a long shot, it may be worth the effort if the potential payoff is high enough. Be sure to itemize your list of requirements for an ideal job prior to engaging in your search so that you can assess the relative appeal of job vacancies.
How Qualified Are You?
When deciding whether to apply for a job, make a list of the advertised and implied qualifications. Place a check next to the requirements that you can meet. If you can make a case for many of the core requirements and the job is attractive, then you should consider applying.
Note the distinction between the requirements and the preferences cited by the employer. Employers are more likely to consider candidates who don't possess the preferred qualities than job seekers without the required skills or knowledge. You may be able to be hired even if you're not a perfect match for the position.
Can You Get the Skills You Need?
If your list is coming up short, what else can you do to make an impression on the hiring manager? When reviewing the job requirements, consider whether you would be willing to develop any of the skills that you don't already possess. If so, you can convey your eagerness to do so in your communications with the employer.
Also, you could formulate a professional development plan so that you can increase your chances of landing similar jobs in the future.
You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Time
Job seekers who have more time and energy available to devote to their search will be in a position to apply for more jobs that are a stretch. If you have the time, it can be worth sending in an application.
Ideally, you will allocate enough time to your search so that you can apply for some reach jobs as well as the surer bets. Because of factors like the rest of the applicant pool or the recommendations you can provide, you may have more of a chance than you expected.
That said, be careful about asking for a referral for too many stretch jobs. You don’t want to use up the goodwill of the people who are willing to refer you by asking for recommendations for jobs that are only a remote possibility.
Finally, if you can get an interview scheduled, you’ll have an opportunity to pitch your candidacy on the phone or in-person and get a step ahead in the hiring process.