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Should You Apply To A Job If You Don’t Fully Qualify?

In my current role, I have been tasked multiple times to help recruit for the current team I am apart of and also the other teams in the company.

I have seen my fair share of resumes and also written them when I was in college and just getting out of college. I have also built onboarding systems that help automate the recruiting process.

This isn’t to brag, but to qualify myself for the advice that I am about to give you.

Something job seekers don’t understand is that most hiring managers aren’t looking for someone to fit the job requirements 100%. Hiring managers weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and pick the best fit for their position and culture.

This concept seems like a no-brainer, but when I talk to people about why they didn’t apply for a job, the first reason is that they thought they were underqualified.

Actually, most hiring managers are looking to find someone who is interested to learn how the company does the job. This means that as long as you are interested and curious to learn, your resume deserves contention with the rest of the candidates.

However, this is only to a certain extent, but lets first dive into the different types of job requirements, what they mean and if they are actually required for you to apply.


1. Skill Requirements

Skill is the task that you will be doing at the job.

Usually, if a job is for a specific skill or a specific set of skills, odds are that you will need to have those skill requirements to get the job, but not always.

If the job posting has a large array of skills listed, then odds are that you do not have to know all of the skills to be considered. Most companies will consider you for the position if you know around 80% of the skills they list because they might need a person to do more of one thing then the other for the job.

Why would they consider you if you are underskilled?

Well, because they are also looking for bargaining power in terms of pay, benefits and more of the like when hiring a new employee. The downfall of this aspect is that you have to be prepared to be offered a lower pay. However, if you are in this situation you should also know that they were prepared to pay you more money if you had more skills, so at least you know that there is room for a higher pay in the future.

Another reason why a company will hire you if you are underskilled is that the company may want someone who they can train to do a skill set their way instead of reteaching someone who is already stuck in their ways. This is also great because you get to learn a new skill set and get paid for learning it.

2. Years of Experience Requirements

The experience level usually comes down to how comfortable you feel. You have to ask yourself, do you feel comfortable performing at that level of work?

For example, if a company is looking for “extensive experience in PHP programming” and you are at an intermediate level, then you should only apply if you feel like you could get to that “extensive experience” level relatively soon.

The same concept can be applied to requirements like, “5 years of managerial experience.” If you only have 1 year of this experience, but it was at a high level of work and you feel comfortable performing at that level, then you should apply.

3. Educational Requirements

Educational requirements help you to get the interview because they only look good on paper.

This is why I always recommend that regardless of the educational requirements you should still apply if you think you can do the job adequately.

There is a huge shift in the education culture that is pointing less towards your degree, but more towards your skill set, which is great for people who lack a degree.

You need to make sure that your resume highlights other aspects of your qualifications.


1. Matching Your Experience To Their Requirements

When sending your resume for any position you need to cater your strengths for their requirements. This is why every resume that you send out should be tailor-made.

If you are still sending out generic resumes and cover letters to companies then you are only further blending in with the rest of the job pool. If you are serious about getting a job then you have to put the work into writing a unique resume.

Your resume should be rewritten to reflect how your qualifications fit perfectly with the job requirements, by referencing as many of their requirements in your cover letter, resume and during the job interview.

This is where you can get around being under qualified for the position because you can explain how your qualifications offset the things that you are underqualified in.

Should You Apply?

I believe that you should think of a job posting as a wish list.

No hiring manager is going to hire an unqualified person for the job, but they will hire an individual that fits their company culture and is willing to grow their skills with the company.

As stated earlier, if you match the job requirements by at least 80% then your resume deserves to be in contention with the others. Employers will weigh the pros and cons and decide to hire someone who excels in certain areas but lacks in another.

Just remember if you are under qualified, you can still get the job, but you should expect to be offered a pay and benefits that reflect your experience level in their company.

You may end up starting at a lower salary, but at least you know that they are prepared to pay you more money in the future once you master the skill set and perform at the level they want you to.

Get out there and apply for more jobs.

Written By
Blake is the digital representative for ASC. Although his role is not in recruiting he was tasked to hire his team and building landing pages for recruiting for RideYellow. If you have any questions for Blake don’t hesitate to comment in the comments sections below.

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