It’s a thought that has probably occurred to most job seekers (in other words, most humans) at one time or another. Hmm, I’d like to apply for that job, but I don’t really have all the qualifications they’re looking for. What should I do?
It’s a natural quandary. People wonder: Should I take a shot at the job? I’d kind of like to, it sounds interesting. But will I just be wasting my time and everyone else’s? Or, worse still, will they laugh at me and think I’m foolish, if they feel I’m so underqualified…
The results also seem clear. Net-net, even if you don’t have every qualification for a job, if you’re interested in it and you’re in the general ballpark in terms of qualifications, it makes good sense to pursue it. Sure, you’re not going to apply for a job as a surgeon just because you like watching The Good Doctor on TV. But if you’re a reasonable fit for a job, even if you lack some of the qualifications, there’s little downside to trying for it. Let’s consider key data points from this new survey.
- 42% of resumes companies receive are from candidates who don’t meet job requirements;
- 62% of employees were offered a position even though they were underqualified for it;
- 84% of HR managers are open to hiring an employee whose skills could be developed through training.
This point about training is key. Even if many companies no longer have elaborate formal development programs in place, individual managers are often willing to “train up” as part of the normal onboarding process.
Willingness to learn
So how can job candidates improve their odds if they’re strongly interested in a position but lack some of its requirements?
I asked this question of Robert Half Senior Executive Director Paul McDonald. “Highlight any non-technical or soft skills that are mentioned in the job description – such as leadership, collaboration, flexibility and business acumen – in your application materials, if possible,” McDonald said. “This doesn’t mean embellishing your resume or listing anything that isn’t true, but being thoughtful about how your experience is tailored to the position and can help you stand out in today’s competitive market.
“A willingness to learn and a positive attitude can go a long way,” he added. “Try to keep this in mind during the application process. Employers are looking for prospective candidates who are interested in growing and learning on the job – even if they may not have the technical skills that check all the boxes.”
Feels like good counsel to me. I can relate these findings to my own management experience. I hired many people over the years, and while I don’t think I ever spent time delineating a careful one-to-one correspondence between perceived skills and written qualifications, I know I always paid close attention to personal intangibles like upbeat nature and optimism.
Yes, as Mr. McDonald succinctly put it, willingness to learn and positive attitude go a long way.