Job postings aren’t legal documents, they’re advertisements, and as such – you shouldn’t avoid applying for any particular job just because you don’t meet every single “required” skill that is listed.

Hiring managers write job descriptions intended to both lure qualified people to apply and fend off those who don’t have the skills and experience for the position. The result is usually an inaccurate job description that is more of a wish list than anything else.

Therefore, you need to be able to tell which requirements for the job are absolutely essential and which are negotiable. Even more important, you need to know how to address the gap between your qualifications and those listed in a job description.

Here are a few things to consider when you can’t check off every job qualification listed in a description.

Can you do the job?

Often, we are drawn to a job posting because the work sounds interesting or the company has a fantastic reputation. However, the allure of a great-sounding job shouldn’t cause you to overlook your own shortcomings.

When considering a job you don’t meet every qualification for, go through the job description and make an effort to get a feel of what a typical day might be like. For instance, “customer service experience” might mean greeting potential customers and directing them toward products or services.

After you’ve gotten a sense of the job’s daily duties, you’ll have a better sense of what you really need to succeed in the job.

What are the ‘nice-to-have’ skills?

Occasionally, bad things get included in good descriptions because someone on the hiring team thinks they sound good. These might be flowery phrases designed to make the job sound impressive, or they could be ‘wish list’ qualifications that are put out there in the hopes of getting someone with the perfect background.

Despite their inclusion, these items probably aren’t going to be what determines who gets the job.

The best way to approach requirements that sound like a company is reaching is to think of the job description as a dating profile. While someone might be looking for a bilingual neurologist who flies to exotic locations for modeling gigs on the weekend – the odds of catching that prize fish over a dating app are pretty slim, and they’ll probably settle for a nice dinner date with someone who chews with their mouth closed.

Leverage transferable skills

If there are some skills in the job description you don’t have per se, but you think might be useful – try to connect the dots between the skills you do have and the ones you’re missing. For example, customer service experience could be very useful in a sales role.


At Action Group, we specialize in helping professionals seek out and apply for positions that will help them reach their career goals. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you.


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