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Should I Apply for This Job?

Posted on April 18, 2022
Black and white image of 4 typed job descriptions overlapping one another at skewed angles

Over the years, I have counseled countless women and men in their job search. I have always found it interesting that women and men take a very different approach when it comes to deciding whether to apply for a specific position. Often, men will apply with fewer of the required qualifications than women. In fact, according to Sophie Deering of The Undercover Recruiter, men are far more likely to apply for positions that interest them, even if they don’t have a 40% of the required qualifications. Women, on the other hand, will not apply unless they have 100%. I have seen the latter so many times. And my response to the women who won’t apply unless they have 100% of the qualifications is where is the room for growth in the position? In other words, if you meet every qualification the company is looking for, then shouldn’t you be applying for a more senior role?

So, I decided to think about this from a different perspective. Here are three approaches to take in determining whether to apply for a position:

One: Do Your Research

Spend some real time looking at the position, research the company, see if you can determine to whom you would report – would you want to report to this person? You should also look at social responsibility activities or other issues that are important to you, such as carbon footprint, etc. Essentially, could you see yourself working at this organization?

Two: Examine the Required Responsibilities and Skills

If this is a place you would see yourself working, then start to take a deeper dive into the actual role, the required responsibilities and skills. There are four reasons why you should apply for a position that sounds interesting, is with a company you would like to work for, and is in a location you like, etc.

Reason 1: If you have the educational requirements – it is going to be an uphill battle of the position requires a master’s degree and you have not completed your bachelor’s. If it requires an MBA, but your master’s is in a related field, then apply!

Reason 2: You have between 65 and 70% of the skills and experience required and do not have any barriers to learning the remaining 30% to 35% over time – i.e., that job growth I mentioned. If you are terrible at coding and coding is a required element of position, then you should not apply. But if graphic design is an element and you are creative and have dabbled with CANVA and feel confident you can learn the Adobe Creative Suite, then apply as long as this skill is not at the top of their list, meaning you’d be expected to have working knowledge on day one.

Reason 3: You are really excited about the position and see yourself in the role – this is a great reason. Hopefully, you had that experience where you can see yourself in the role and the thought of it is exciting. A good salary is great, but if you can’t see yourself at the company or being happy in the role, then you will work very hard for that money.

Reason 4: You have skills that speak to, or are transferable, to the listed skills you do not have. In other words, you are a lifelong learner who likes to learn new things. In this case, apply for the position and if interviewed be able to speak to new skills you have learned in your current position.

Three: Look at the Preferred Skills

It is likely you may have at least one or two of listed preferred skills. I recommend examining that list and if you have one or two, and can see yourself learning the others, then apply for the position. Again, you will want to be able to speak to your ability to learn new skills and be able to provide solid examples.

You should not be applying for a job for which you have all the required experience. As I noted earlier, when you do that, you are leaving yourself little to no room for growth. Companies most often hire because they think the candidate is a good fit versus their complete skills base. Johnny C. Taylor writes in The SHRM HR Magazine article entitled, Recruit for Skill, Hire for Fit, “The people you onboard, engage and equip will be the stewards of your workplace, which is why you must find people who align with your unique culture. Certainly, acumen acts as the base line for evaluating candidates, but hiring for cultural alignment is critical.”

Best of luck on your job search!


Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Dean, Graduate College
Assistant Clinical Professor, Goodwin College
Drexel University
Posted in professional-development-career-tips