There are a lot of elements to job seeking. In a perfect world, no job seeker would ever need to apply for a job – the jobs would all come knocking. Well, clearly, this isn’t a perfect world. Most job seekers are not in the position to move from job to job effortlessly. So, reviewing and evaluating job descriptions is a necessary evil.
It’s both a blessing and a curse that todays descriptions are so elaborate and LONG. Some of you will remember when applying for a job involved reading a three-line ad in a newspaper and hoping you would get lucky and hit the nail on the head with your application materials. Now, companies have no limits to the number of words they can use in their “desired qualifications.” If you are lucky, someone who really knows what the job involves will write the description, but you can be sure there’ll be a lot of words, plenty of lingo and probably a lot of qualifications to meet.
So, what’s the good part of looking at these job descriptions that don’t seem to end? At least you get a good sense of what the organization values. If they want four of five key qualifications, they will list all of them (and then some), so you will know from the start their wish list. (In the old days, they may have left something off that would come back to bite you in the butt later in the process.)
The other advantage to long job descriptions? You can use them to help connect the dots between what they need and what you offer. Connecting the dots is the key to success with applications.
When you review a job description – first, think about the type of organization. Is it a government job? If there are required minimum qualifications (for example, a four-year degree in a particular industry AND 4 years of related work experience) – you are likely out of luck if you do not have those exact qualifications. Applying for that job without the minimum qualifications, unless you have some sort of great networking connection or otherwise have reason to believe that you areÃ‚Â “special” circumstance, is likely to be a waste of your time for a government job. Since targeting your resume for each job is important and targeting and cover letter writing takes your valuable time, looking at the situation with a realistic view is important.
Does this mean that you should never consider jobs beyond your qualifications?
NO! In fact, I’ve written tips for applying for jobs that are a reach. However, it’s important to spend your application time well, so evaluating the job description is key.
We all know that job descriptions often seem to be seeking the “sun, moon and stars.” Employers “shoot for the moon.” They want the equivalent of an accountant who has written a novel and has a perfect golf game! In other words, an unlikely combination!
When “desired qualifications” include experiences you do not have, it can still be worth applying. As long as you can make a direct connection between what they want and what you offer, I advise going for it!
Make a point to understand your skills and qualifications. Know your limitations and where you have potential to successfully stretch.
A little self-assessment can go a long way. You must know yourself to sell your skills. If you apply for an interview for a position that is a stretch, be prepared to sell yourself and defend your ability to get the job done. Know what transferable skills you possess that will make you successful. You can apply for “reach” jobs until you are blue in the face, but if you don’t know how to convince the employer that you CAN do the job, even if you haven’t ALREADY done it, you’re going to be looking for a long time.
photo by cupe vampe