When to apply for a role (even if you’re not a perfect match)

When to apply for a role (even if you’re not a perfect match)
SEEK content teamupdated on 03 June, 2024

Do you have your heart set on a role, but you don’t meet every single requirement listed in the job description? 

Sometimes it can be hard to know if you’re a good fit for a role. You might feel discouraged if you don’t have all the experience and qualifications listed in the description. 

If that’s the case for you, you’re not alone. Almost a quarter of people (22%) find it difficult to understand if they’re a good match for a role.

But it’s rare that a job ad perfectly matches the person who lands the role. So even if you don’t meet every single requirement listed, it may still be worth applying.

Here’s how to work out if you could be a good fit for a role – even if you don’t have 100% of the job requirements. 

What to look for in a job ad 

1. Technical skills: There may be specific technical skills required for the role such as knowledge of certain programs or software. Leah Lambart, career coach at Relaunch Me, says if you haven’t used the software before, research it online and think about any similar software you’ve used that shows an aptitude to learn a new program quickly.

“You may even be able to find a trial that you can download to test out the software before you go to the interview or see if there are any YouTube videos demonstrating how the software works,” Lambart says.

2. People-related skills: Think about what people-related skills you have, such as collaboration, relationship management, influencing, negotiation or customer service, Lambart says. That will help you quickly identify your transferable skills that you can bring to the role from a previous job.

3. Education and qualifications: “Some jobs do require specific qualifications and there is just no way to get around this,” Lambart says.

However, a job ad should specify whether education and qualifications are a must, or just desirable. “If listed as desirable, then relevant experience may make up for any lack of qualifications.”

4. Industry experience: While many job ads ask for specific industry experience, employers may still consider someone from a different industry if they have transferable skills, Lambart says.

“This will also depend on the competition for the role and how easy it is for the company to find a suitable candidate from the same industry.”

David Cawley, NSW State Director of Corporate Services at Hays, says if you don’t have the required experience, use your application to explain why you still think you're a suitable applicant.

Remember, if you don’t have the experience mentioned in the job ad, you can still apply.

5. Company culture: The language used in the job ad will give you a feel for company culture. “For example, if the language is very formal, then the environment may also be more formal and conservative compared to an advertisement that has some fun, quirky phrases that suggests a more laid back and informal environment,” Lambart says.

6. Career goals: Does the role offer the long-term opportunities you’re looking for? Consider whether the job aligns with both your immediate and long-term career goals, Cawley says, and what career progression opportunities the role will give you.

What to include in your application

It’s no secret that larger organisations are increasingly using AI to screen applications as a first step, Cawley says.

But if you don’t have all the experience, how can you include key words to make sure your resumé isn’t rejected?

Cawley suggests including details of any previous experience and transferable skills that would apply to the role.

Only rarely does what the organisation is looking for exactly match the successful applicant, Cawley says.

“It’s about how that applicant is able to demonstrate the qualities, competencies, past experience and view of the future that can translate across into that role. The nuances of that role can be learned on the job. It's the application of those skills that is the key asset that the organisation is looking for.

How to find out more about the company

Job ads only give so much information about the company. Doing your own research will help you understand the organisation’s values and reputation, and if these align to your own. Look for other sources such as SEEK Company Profiles for reviews.

Lambart suggests looking at the organisation’s website to find out more about its culture, or speaking to current employees if you have any contacts. “An internal referral can go a long way if an insider puts a good word in for you during the recruitment process.”

Cawley says if you know who will be conducting the interview, try to find out about them before the interview through the organisation’s website or their professional profiles.

“That will help you understand how the role that you're applying for is going to relate to those individuals.”

Cawley says an organisation’s social media profiles can give you great insights into company culture and the type of applicants they’re looking for, and can also help you work out whether you’d feel at home in that organisation.

What to ask in the interview

The interview is a great time to find out more about the company and whether the role is right for you.

If you score an interview, be sure to do some research beforehand so you’re ready when they ask, “do you have any questions for us?”

When it comes to asking questions, Cawley’s biggest piece of advice is: “Never say you don't have any questions.”

Asking some well thought out questions is “only going to heighten the engagement you have with the interviewers”, he says.

Cawley suggests asking questions such as:

  • Why is the position available?
  • What are the professional and personal development prospects of the role?
  • What does the company stand for?

Ask about company culture, too, and consider these 7 questions to ask during the interview

Lambart suggests asking questions such as:

  • What key skills and attributes will make someone successful in this role?
  • What do you expect will be the biggest challenges for the person offered this position?
  • Can you describe the key priorities for this role in the first 12 months?
  • What does career progression look like from this position?
  • What do you enjoy most about working for this company?
  • What three words would you use to describe the company culture?

Don’t ignore your gut feelings, either, for better or worse – especially if you spot red flags or feel something isn’t right, Lambart says.

If you’re unsure whether to apply for a job, doing research can give you insight into the company culture and whether it fits in with your career goals. Think about your transferable skills and how they fit in with the new role, and explain that in your application. Preparing some insightful questions for an interview will show the interviewer that you’re enthusiastic and engaged – and the person they’re looking for.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published June 2024.

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