Guilty as charged. I’ve done it before, and you probably have to. We’re hopeful, we can’t blame ourselves for that. We think, “Maybe they’ll see something in me and I’ll have a chance.”
But it’s wrong. It’s a waste of time- yours and theirs. Just don’t do it!
Don’t apply for jobs for which you are not qualified.
The job market is tough! Black-hole ATS systems and generic recruiting styles don’t help. I read a great article that highlights this in more detail. What I haven’t seen is more information on the reason ATS systems were created and why they need weed through resumes so quickly. If I had a million dollar guess, it would be that too many of the wrong people throw their hat in for jobs they aren’t qualified for.
I’m not saying we should lose hope or never take a risk, because truly, you never know what can happen! But really, what kind of risk are you taking by submitting your resume online to a job you know you’re not qualified for? Virtually none for you. The better risk to take would be to spend your time researching the company, the employees and the culture and dig through your own network to see if you have any connections that could potentially connect you to a hiring manager. I’ll touch on this more below.
Here are some things to consider before you push the send button and shoot your resume off into the abyss:
1. Are you qualified?
Do you meet at least 70% of the job qualifications? Yes, roughly 70%. And I’m not talking about the qualifications like: “Good communication skills” or “ability to work with others.” I’m talking about the core qualifications that the role requires you to have in order to do the job successfully. A tip for you to consider- most job postings list the qualifications from most important to least important. So, out of the top 10 qualifications listed, do you have recent and strong experience in at least 7 of these? The keyword here is recent. If you studied marketing analytics in school 8 years ago and don’t have any recent real-world experience, this doesn’t count towards your skills.
2. Does your resume reflect your qualifications?
If you’ve ever worked with a recruiter before, they may have suggested that you have multiple versions of your resume. I would say you should revise your resume for every job you apply to. This does not mean write a completely new resume each time, but revise it. Include the qualifications that are listed in the job posting that you may have left out of your resume. Look for keywords that the company uses on their website and in the job descriptions, and insert them into your resume- where it makes sense and if it is truthful of course!
3. Is applying online the best way to land this job?
I touched on it briefly already; it is extremely important to use your network. With tools like LinkedIn and Facebook, many of us are forever connected to thousands of people that hold the key to our next career step. Before you do the quick apply online, spend some time researching who the hiring manager is for the role. If you find that you have mutual connections with them, see if there is someone you feel comfortable asking for an introduction. Also, with paid LinkedIn accounts you can access more information on people’s profiles and send them direct InMail messages! Perhaps you discover that you both attended the same college or have participated in the same volunteer programs… these are great points of connection to utilize.
If you’re using an outside recruiter (like me!) and you don’t know who the end client is, then a better approach may be to ask for an informational interview with that recruiter. Roughly, this is chance to connect with the recruiter (via phone, LinkedIn InMail or email) to gather more information on the opportunity and requirements. However, we (recruiters) are not in the business of wasting time (ours, yours or our client’s) so before you request more info, make sure you’ve established points 1 and 2.
As a recruiter, I receive dozens and sometimes hundreds of applicants for positions I post, most of which are not even remotely qualified for the role. It’s time consuming, frustrating and confusing. And I have to admit, at times it could be my fault. Sometimes I’m not specific enough on the requirements in the job description. This may be because my client is unsure who they want to hire, or maybe I’m trying to reach a wider range of people. If the job description is short and/or foggy, then it may be tough to know whether or not you’re fully qualified.
Most of the time, I try to be specific and give detailed explanations of the type of person my client is looking to hire. Regardless of whether you’re going straight to the company or working through a recruiter, please respect the time and effort put into creating a job description and read it thoroughly, making sure that your background and resume screams “I’m your match!”
Now, you might ask, “What if I’m looking to make a career transition and don’t have the necessary skills for a job I want?”
Well, I think you just answered the question yourself. If you don’t have the necessary skills for the job, then you don’t have the skills necessary to do the job! Ask yourself this instead: “Why would this company want to hire me? What valuable skills can I truly bring to this position and this organization?”
If you can’t answer those questions, you shouldn’t apply for the job,
If your answers are a little more abstract and your experience indirectly correlates with the position, then you’ll want to refer to point #3: use your network so that you have the opportunity to explain this. An example would be: ‘I have never worked specifically in Technical Account Management, but my degree is in Computer Science- therefore I have a strong understanding of technology- and I have spent the last 3 years in Software Sales, giving me great customer-facing experience.”
In this example, you’ve given the hiring manager a reason to consider you, which is exactly what we’re aiming for in this scenario.
There are so many non-traditional ways to discover jobs on the market and apply. Whether you’re a perfect fit or hoping to get into to a new role, remember; it’s all about what you can do for the company. The more you can reflect this in your resume and conversations, the better. They are the ones paying you after all! Get creative and put some effort into it!
JennPhoto credit: www.morguefile.com