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Should I Apply for Jobs I am not 100% Qualified for?

It’s a very common question that most job seekers ask and an honest answer is, it depends.

Everyone relates to the situation where you come across few jobs that you absolutely love, but don’t find yourself to be a fit as per the qualification criteria. The job position might be looking for someone with an experience of six to eight years but you have only four, or if you have great experience then perhaps the company prefers someone with an MBA that you don’t have, or there just might be some bullet points in the job description that you have never done before. So, that puts you in a fix of whether to apply for the job or would it be a waste of time for everyone since you really lack what the position is asking for?

When you know you would be a right match for the job position but the job requirements and qualification check list don’t go hand in hand with your experience and expertise, is when most decide to simply write it off and settle for something they aren’t that excited about. Well, in certain situations that would definitely be a wise choice, but in most of the cases, you would be making a big mistake. Although it seems pretty logical to seek only those jobs for which you are a ‘perfect fit’, you are cordoning off yourself from potentially great opportunities by doing so. Don’t let a list of bullet points on a job description intimidate you because more often, this list is a wish list of the recruiters for an ideal candidate and even they know, that in reality, there does not always exist an ideal candidate.

You don’t need to be 100% qualified to be the best candidate for the job but you do need to make sure that you fulfill at least the minimum set of qualifications that the job requires. If the job requires more than 10 years of experience and you have only 2 then you are better off by not applying. If you apply to positions that you are not qualified for, you won’t be remembered in a positive light. However, it is important to understand that the companies are not looking for people who fulfill 100% of the requirements, and this criterion is only to weed out people who are a complete no match. If you were to talk to people working in the same position then you would realize, even they don’t fulfill exact same criteria as listed in the job description but were surely skilled enough to take up the responsibilities needed. Also, in many circumstances, a job will be tweaked to fit a great candidate and in some cases, you might even be offered a better position than what you would have imagined. So if the requirement is perhaps for someone with an experience of 3–5 years and you have only 2 years of experience, you can still choose to apply by writing a good cover letter and highlighting your achievements and experience which would be a good match for the position.

But then again, even after you have cleared the minimum required qualifications criteria and you can see yourself being a fairly good match for the position, and yet if you wonder whether to apply or not then the real reason that’s holding you back is not whether you would be wasting everyone’s time but that you fear rejection. It is true that if you get rejected then it would definitely be unpleasant as you wanted the job dearly but that does not justify the reason for not applying.

Another reason that holds down many is, they assume there will be tons of other applicants with all the desired qualifications and so they think, “why to bother?” But in between of these thoughts, you forget one big factor which is responsible for getting you hired and that is the human factor. Those who are scrutinizing your resume and would be interviewing you are humans and they want to connect and hire other capable and likable humans for the job. Hiring is definitely a logical process but it also involves a lot of emotional factors and so one should not underestimate the power of “soft skills”. Many a time recruiters will select those who have better soft skills even if they do not have the exact qualifications. People can be trained in skills required for a job but one cannot be trained in personal characteristics and strengths that they bring to the table. So as important is your qualification, perhaps even more important is who you are as a person and more often that will compensate for the areas you lack. What is more important is your dedication and optimism, and if you are a people-person then you can definitely lead the team far better than someone who probably has all the qualifications listed.

So once you have decided to apply for a role that requires an extra stretch, be prepared to put in some extra legwork. If you are sure about the role and it is something that you have always dreamed about, then you can try to bridge the gaps between your knowledge and skill set and what the job requirement needs. Even though maybe you never managed a team before but highlighting the fact that you have some experience from your academic days of handling people will showcase the necessary skills. You can also start the self-learning process for certain skills and prove that you are eager to learn new skills that might be required for the job. But to shine in the interview, you would first require reaching that stage and for that, you must make a real good effort to bring more of your personality across through your resume and cover letter. And finally don’t just make it simply about you but make it about the company and how you are a great fit.

Don’t waste your time over the jobs that you are straight up not qualified for. However, if you see your dream job where you are a great fit but just seems out of your reach, don’t write yourself off. Take a chance and apply because without that you will never come to know if you ever had a shot at it.

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Nomad | Early Stage Investor | Wannabe Anthropologist | Technology Evangelist | Curious, Inquisitive & Experimental Entrepreneur

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Abhishek Shah

Nomad | Early Stage Investor | Wannabe Anthropologist | Technology Evangelist | Curious, Inquisitive & Experimental Entrepreneur