You’ve been there, or maybe you’re there right now. Spending your evenings sifting through online job description after job description because you really need a new job. Or, maybe you really want a new job and you’re determined to make it happen. Some you’re not interested in. Some you feel confident you have the perfect cocktail of skills, experience and genuine interest.
Then there are those jobs that you feel like are just out of your reach, but you’d love to be considered. You check off a lot of boxes, but not every single one listed on the job description. There are some skills that you may need to brush up on or learn more about.
Reading over it again you ask yourself, should you even apply?
Short answer: Yes.
You are not alone in your hesitation to hit send on your cover letter. Statistics show that when men apply for a job they only feel they need to meet 60% of the qualifications, but in comparison women feel they need to 100% of the qualifications.
Does this need for perfection sound familiar? Better yet, does this statistic make you want to fire off that cover letter, rejection be damned? Or, maybe when you see the word ‘requirement’ you fairly perceive that it is in fact a requirement of the job?
But the truth is, job descriptions aren’t that black and white. And, luckily they aren’t, because chances are you’re qualified for more jobs that you think.
Take off your blinders when job searching.
Change your way of looking at a job description. It isn’t a cookie cutter mold you have to fit into, demanding you to be the perfect candidate. But instead an ideal list of qualifications, skills and experiences developed by the employer to find the person that will help them get the job done and excel in the role.
A recruiter isn’t going to turn away a promising candidate just because they don’t check off every bullet point on that job description. Because that's just it, it’s an ideal. Think about it like looking for an apartment or a home, you have a wishlist of things you’d really like to have in your next home, bonuses and non-negotiables. You’re probably still going to mention all of it to your realtor, right? Because you want to aim for the best fit for you.
For instance, in an apartment your wishlist might be stainless steel appliances, your non-negotiable is that it be less than a 25 minute commute to work. Oh, and there’s a garbage disposal? Bonus!
- You need to have a manageable commute, you’re not going to budge there.
- You would really like to have stainless steel appliances, but it’s not necessarily a deal breaker if you find a great home (you could always upgrade later).
- A garbage disposal, convenient, but nothing you can’t live without or could install later if you decided you really wanted it.
The same goes for a candidate and employer. A job description is usually made up of these components: true requirements (non-negotiables), ideal qualifications (wish list), and preferred skills (bonuses).
Deciphering the job description.
For example, let’s break down this opening for a Marketing Communications Coordinator:
“Do you seek an innovative culture, endless opportunities for learning and the chance to be part of something truly distinctive? We’re looking to fill our Marketing Communications Coordinator position with someone who is a self-starter and enjoys diversity in their work. The right individual for this position will truly embody our 2017 theme ‘Think Differently’ and is ready to tackle any project that may come their way!”
At the beginning of the job description you can see the type of candidate they’re looking for emerge. From it, you can easily pick out key phrases that indicate some of the soft skills the ideal candidate will have: a person that can take initiative and a multi-tasker that is interested in the thrill of juggling multiple projects at a time.
Things You’ll Do:
- Execute tactical marketing plans, including creation and management of digital campaigns
- Help develop marketing materials, email campaigns, and website content (blogs, ebriefs, infographics, tip sheets, webinars, etc)
- Assist in the approval of copy, layout/artwork, media plans, and product collateral
- Produce our monthly client newsletter
- Own, manage, and develop the corporate website
- Write and deploy social media content and manage our social platforms
- Track and analyze social media metrics and post-campaign reporting
- Assist with event and tradeshow promotion, planning and execution
- Utilize a variety of project management tools to update the team on project status
- Own the reporting scorecard and provide weekly campaign updates in marketing team meetings
The qualifications, job requirements or as they call it here, “Things You’ll Do” can be a mixture of all the elements that make up a job description. How do you identify what their non-negotiables are? When you’re scanning through the description look for the common themes or words that are repeated multiple times.
In this one, ‘marketing’ and ‘manage’ pop up many times. This is an indication that experience or an aptitude for these two things is a necessity. Don’t have experience in tradeshow promotion and planning, but do in everything else? Probably not going to be a deal breaker.
What We’re Looking For:
- 1+ years of relevant work experience in marketing and/or communications
- Ability to manage multiple projects on firm deadlines
- A resourceful, curious, and inquisitive individual who loves to learn and try new things
- Excellent written communication skills with strong attention to detail
- Email marketing and CRM experience a plus, but not required
- A fun, creative, and collaborative person – oh, and someone who loves dogs! (We often have dogs in the office on Fridays)
“A plus, but not required,” spells out that it’s a bonus. You can still be a strong candidate even if you don’t come to the table with that skill.
Then, asses your skill gap.
That it is if there is one. Naturally, your eyes skim down a job description and you get to pick out different aspects that you don’t feel as confident about. But, before you do that recognize all the boxes you do check off.
After, then take a look at what aspects you may not quite meet and whether or not those are deal breakers. Compare how many of the qualifications you meet, and those you don’t side by side and assess how big the gap is.
Does it look like you check off, about two thirds? Are you genuinely interested in the role and want to apply? Then, hit send with a cover letter that makes a great first impression.
In fact, remember how men feel they only need to meet 60% of the qualifications when applying for a job? I challenge you to use 60% as your bench mark when assessing whether or not you’re a good candidate.