By Amanda Wilks
One of the scariest parts of job hunting is reading the mile-long list of skills required to qualify for the job. Add to that relevant job experience, education, and the dozens of other candidates competing for the job, and you’re left wondering how anybody ever gets hired.
The simple truth is that these lists are more or less designed with a margin of error in mind. Sure, the ideal candidate would tick all the boxes, but every recruiter is aware of the fact that, in reality, that is unlikely to happen.
That being said, you still need to have at least some of the skills they require. Depending on the job you’re looking for, these may be more technical. You can’t really get around them. But, if you take a close look at some of the terms, you’ll notice that many of the qualification are rather vague, or fall into the category of soft skills. Soft skills refer to interpersonal skills, such as the ability to communicate well with people, and work in a team, under pressure.
Before starting your job hunt proper, it might be a good idea to find out what some of the more frequently used terms actually mean. That way, you’ll know exactly how to adapt the skills you already have, and you’ll know what to say, and ask, during the interview.
Recruiters focus so much on these soft skills because they know that, beyond the technical know-how, what makes a great employee is their ability to adapt to the new environment, and be a team player. Experience can be gained in time, and skills can be learned. If you can prove that you are a good fit for their company, and you are willing to make up for the requirements you don’t have, that’s definitely going to make you stand-out.
And often, employers are actually interested in someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience working in a similar company. Each business has its own way of doing things, and they will prefer someone whom they can mold. Hiring someone who’s more or less a blank slate, as far as their methods go, is often preferred to hiring someone who has previous experience in another, similar company. They may have a harder time adapting to a different environment, and operations, than someone who’s learning everything from scratch, and doesn’t have any preconceptions about the work involved.
Perhaps, one of the most common mistakes people make when applying for a job they don’t feel they’re qualified for is to be dismissive about their other skills and work experience. It’s certainly a good idea to start the conversation by highlighting those abilities which qualify you for the job, even if they don’t seem like much. But you should make sure to mention other abilities you have, that you could use in the workplace, even if they weren’t explicitly noted in the job description. It shows you’ve really considered the job at hand, and are aware of the challenge.
No matter how qualified you are for a job, it’s always a good idea to find some insider info before applying. Social media is not just for sharing vacation pictures, and reconnecting with friends anymore. It can be a really powerful tool to help you in your job hunt. Career fairs and networking events are also great opportunities to talk to recruiters one on one, and get some details about the company you are applying for, and how you could leverage your skills and experience for the opening you are interested in.
If you’re still somewhat unsure if applying for the job is a good idea or not, you can always look at other openings in the company. Larger companies have several openings at a time, and it’s easier to switch to a different position once you’re in. And you can work on that all-important network of friends and acquaintances while you’re at it. Any experience can be valuable, if you know what to take from it.
Those lists of qualifications are really meant for people who just apply to every, and any, job under the sun. It’s a way for recruiters to spot the people who have absolutely no business applying for the position. That being said, every employer knows that hiring a new person is always a gamble, as far as their concerned. They might be perfect on paper, and unable to handle the workload, or they don’t fare well in the new environment. If you can prove to your future employer that you are willing to put in some effort, and make this relationship work, that’s more than anyone can ask for.
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About the Author
Amanda Wilks is a Boston University graduate and a Contributing Editor at Access to Knowledge. She has a great interest in everything related to job-seeking, career-building, and entrepreneurship and loves helping people reach their true potential. Contact Amanda using the @AmandaWilks01 Twitter handle.