Many of us have seen the statistic that men will apply for a job when they meet 60% of the requirements, but women will only apply if they meet 100% of them. It’s originally from an internal report at Hewlett Packard- and has frequently been cited as evidence that men are simply more confident job applicants than their female peers. However, a Harvard Business Review article by Tara Sophia Mohr, not believing they could do a job well was not one of the top reasons for not applying for a job that one doesn’t meet all qualifications for. In fact- it was at the bottom of the list. The #1 reason women (and men) weren’t applying for jobs that they didn't meet all the criteria for was because they “didn’t think they would hire me since I didn’t meet the qualifications, and I didn’t want to waste my time and energy”. Tara Sophia Mohr notes that this means women aren’t lacking the confidence to apply, but rather lacking information on how the hiring process works.
We couldn’t agree with her more. We tell people all the time to apply for jobs that feel like a bit of a reach. We tell them this because those “requirement” sections on job postings aren’t really “must haves”, most of them are “nice to haves”. We aren’t saying that you should apply for jobs you aren’t qualified for, we’re telling you to apply for jobs you believe you can do well, even if you don’t meet every single requirement.
Why? In our experience, by the time a job posting makes it to a website or a job board, it has passed through many hands. Managers, peers, supervisors, and more- all of whom add something to it. By the time it’s finished it’s often an impossible combination of skills that no real candidate actually has. In addition to this, remember how you gained all the skills you have now. You learned them. Great companies who really understand hiring often care less about hiring people with particular skills and more about hiring good people. Employees who are eager and willing to learn are always more valuable than someone who checks the boxes.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, companies know these requirement sections are unreasonable. There are probably just a few key skills that they’re really looking for. Have you ever seen those entry-level job postings that require 3-5 years of experience in the industry? They know it’s unrealistic. Most companies won’t penalize you for not meeting every single requirement. They won’t automatically count you out- because that person who meets every single one probably doesn’t exist.
Our advice to you: highlight the skills you do have, talk about your ability to learn and your interest in growing your expertise. Look for companies whose culture and mission resonate with you. Keep finding opportunities for growth in your field. Everything from taking on work projects outside of your comfort zone to taking courses on your own time adds to your value as an employee. Give companies a clear picture of who you are, and how you’d fit in with them. If you meet 50% of the requirements, go for it.
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