If I had a dollar for every time I had a jobseeker tell me “well I thought I was qualified”- I would be an immensely rich woman and therefore would not be writing articles on the world of HR in my spare time but I digress. There is a sentiment among some jobseekers that you should apply to everything you “think” you are qualified for. On one hand this is true as I constantly encourage candidates that have not had the privileged of being scooped up by my company to keep an eye on our career website and apply to what they “think” they are qualified for. I may be misleading these candidates because what they “think” they are qualified to do and what they are actually qualified to do may differ.
For instance, I may think that with my aptitude to learn new things, some training and a few advanced classes in Microsoft Excel that I could be an accountant. The reality is I am a HR professional by trade with a degree in Psychology. While I may be extremely intelligent and have “fire in my belly” to do whatever I put my mind to-I am not; nor will I ever be qualified in the mind of a recruiter or hiring manager to be an accountant.
The fact is when a company posts a position and there are “minimum requirements” listed. You need to meet all of the minimum requirements. The minimum requirements in a job posting are usually non-negotiable. Conversely, the “preferred requirements” are such that they would make you all the more attractive as an applicant but they are not a necessity.
Unfortunately for jobseekers, the time when employers hired for attitude and trained ready and willing people is a thing of the past in most sectors. Employers for the most part are looking for candidates to come in and hit the ground running with minimal training and/or downtime. That means you cannot merely “think” you can do the job with reasonable assistance; you must be qualified to do it. Whether or not you are indeed qualified will be defined by individual companies. However, jobseekers should know that their knowledge, skills and abilities or (KSA’s as we call it in HR) should be the focal point of their resume and it should reasonably match the requirements of the position for you to move on to be reviewed by the hiring manager.
Here are some tips on assessing your qualifications when applying to a job:
1) Read the job description carefully. Don’t skim through job description and serial apply to jobs. If you read the job description you should be able to discern whether or not you would be qualified to do the job.
2) Be reasonable. If you have worked as a cashier at Stop & Shop for the past three years and are pursuing a degree in Anthropological Studies with a concentration in Middle Eastern History do not apply to a Comptroller position. At every level in an organization, there are required KSA’s and competencies as well as mandatory on-the-job experience you must have to move up the ladder. Creep before you walk.
3) Make sure you meet the minimum qualifications. Some companies will be a little flexible on these. The threshold you should use is 80%. If you meet 80% of the qualifications requested in a posting- apply to it. The worst that could happen is your application will be rejected. The best case scenario is the recruiter has the ability to be flexible on certain qualifications and you get through.
4) Attitude and Aptitude are two different concepts. While many will agree that sometimes it’s better to hire someone with a positive attitude than someone with a negative attitude and a degree from Harvard- you need to pay attention to whether the company has specifically stated that they are willing to train. Just because you are bubbly and pleasant does not mean that you have the qualifications to do the job- it just means you’re nice.
5) If you don’t immediately feel confident that you could perform the duties of a position without extensive training you probably are not qualified to do the job. Don’t let anxiety about being unemployed and/or your ambitions to land a job cloud your ability to make informed decisions about your career.