Job Requirements Are a “Nice to Have”

You can still get the position even if you fall short

Photo: Free To Use Sounds/Unsplash

I’ve applied to hundreds of jobs in the past ten years. I don’t remember most of the applications, but there is one, from 2010, still perfectly vivid in my memory.

My dad walked into my room, and I announced, excited:

I applied for a job in Paris.

He asked me about the position. It was a reporter role in a web-tv, and I had just graduated with a degree in Communications. I told him about the job requirements, which included Final Cut Pro skills. He asked me if I knew how to use that software. No, I didn’t. He was confused; I was confident.

Two days later, I got a phone call with an interview invitation. Two weeks after that, I packed my bags and took a flight from Lisbon to Paris. I had gotten the job.

Job Descriptions List The Skills of Ideal Candidates

When a company puts out a job ad, they describe the ideal candidate. Guess what? Most things in life are far from ideal.

It’s like when you imagine your ideal partner. You want them to be funny, charming, good looking, smart, and kind. And then someone comes along who is wonderful, and better than you could have hoped for in every way, except that their sense of humor is a bit too dark for your taste. Do you turn them down just because of that? Or do their qualities outshine the small imperfection?

This 2019 study shows that 42% of job applicants don’t meet the requirements, but 84% of companies are willing to hire and train candidates who lack the required skills.

Many companies want their employees to grow in their roles. They want people who can progress and adapt to the specificities of the job and the company. If you already know how to do everything required in the position you applied for, where is the room for growth?

If you tick every box of a job description, you are probably overqualified.

You don’t need to create a fake CV or lie to the interviewer about your skills. What you need is to be honest, and show them that even though you don’t fully qualify, you are willing to learn.

Do some research on the requirements you fail to meet. Assess if these are skills you would like to develop. If so, tell this to the interviewer, stating why this is something that interests you, and how you plan to overcome this lack of knowledge and experience.

Success Comes to Those Who Try

A few weeks ago, Molly Mulher posted this inspiring story on LikedIn.

Before coronavirus, she worked as an event coordinator. With the virus shutting down most public gatherings, she found herself out of a job and having a hard time to find a new one. So, she applied to be a candle maker because she felt “really aligned with the company’s goals and mindset.”

She got an interview. But it just so happened that the company also needed someone to run their social media accounts. Molly got the job, but not the candlemaker one. She is now the company’s Social Media Manager.

Something similar happened to me once. I applied to a customer service role, but the hiring manager saw my communication skills and suggested I interview for the marketing assistant position, which they hadn’t even advertised yet.

Companies are flexible. Sometimes, they write down a job role, but someone shows up with a combination of skills that could help the company grow. If they are smart, they go for it.

You never know the opportunities that might come along with any job you apply for. And you will remain ignorant if you never take a chance, but you can open the doors for something wonderful if only you dare to try.

How to Overcome Your Weaknesses

If you get a job you’re qualified to do; you will feel comfortable since the beginning. But you will also get bored after a short period.

However, if you start in a new position feeling that you come up a little too short, you are setting yourself up for growth. You will feel the pressure, the constant push, and the self-doubt that comes with challenging your limits. You will develop your skills, both the hard and soft ones. You will practice being humble, build resilience, and maintain an eagerness to learn.

It’s important that you adopt this attitude; otherwise, you will fail to keep up with the growth your employer expected from you when they gave you a chance. Don’t let them down.

Be curious, ask questions, learn from people more qualified than you. Put in the time and energy. Take online courses on specific subjects where your knowledge is weak. Strengthen even further the skills that secured you the job in the first place. Keep the enthusiasm. Go the extra mile. Before you know it, you will fill all the gaps in your qualifications and even outgrow the position you were originally not fully qualified to hold.


Don’t take this advice too far. If you have a degree in marketing, don’t apply for a veterinary position. You would probably end up killing a few puppies, and nobody wants puppies to die.

But if your profile matches around 70% of the listed requirements, don’t sabotage yourself, giving up before even trying.

“Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both usually right.” — Confucius

Impostor syndrome is real, and it prevents many great people from achieving their dreams. Don’t let it win. Not knowing something is acceptable. But you should not accept the inner voice that tells you to give up on something important just because you are afraid to fail.

After all, what is the worst thing that can happen if you apply but rejection? Nothing. There is always the next job opportunity, the next interview, and eventual success.


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