Don’t meet every single requirement? Apply anyway


Our newest manager almost didn’t apply for the job, and we almost missed out on a talented individual who brings a whole new set of skills to our team. Why? Because she didn’t feel she was qualified. Or that she didn’t meet all the qualifications we were asking for in the job posting.

What changed her mind? This paragraph at the end of the job posting:

Don’t meet every single requirement? Studies have shown that women and people of colour are less likely to apply to jobs unless they meet every single qualification. At the Skills Centre we are dedicated to building a diverse, inclusive and authentic workplace, so if you’re excited about this role but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to apply anyway. You may be just the right candidate for this or other roles.

We found this paragraph on LinkedIn where another woman had used it. We started including it in our job postings last year, and now we have undeniable proof that it is effective. Who hasn’t looked at a job posting and said, oh, well, they want someone with this and this and I haven’t done that, so I won’t bother applying? Who hasn’t stretched their experience a bit to try to fit the exact description in a job posting?

To be honest, we were surprised she thought she wasn’t qualified. How is it that we can have two such different interpretations of experience and qualifications? Transferable skills is one part of it. Transferable skills are those skills that can be used in any job, such as communication skills, empathy, critical thinking, reliability or management skills.

The long-held belief that you have to meet every qualification is another part of it. We tend to think there will be people more qualified than we are applying. People who have done that exact job (an unrealistic expectation most of the time) and can just move in to the new role effortlessly.

There’s the adage to hire for attitude, skills can be learned. Our effort to encourage people to look at their skills and experience differently runs along those lines. You’ve developed this type of project and worked with that type of organization? Well you should certainly be able to handle our needs. Different industry? That means you’ll bring different insights to this job, and that’s almost always a good thing.

Years ago I had a manager who didn’t care what university degree you had because it probably wasn’t going to be that relevant to the job. What he cared about was that you finished a degree because that takes a lot of effort and work, and for him that showed you were able to accomplish big, long term tasks.

With the current labour shortages, it is even more crucial to be flexible in your hiring practices. Be clear in your job posting that you’ll consider any and all experience. Be clear that you don’t expect everyone to be able to tick every box (and if you can’t be clear about that, perhaps you need to rethink your expectations). Be open to more diverse applicants.

You will probably be pleasantly surprised to see the diversity of well-qualified people who you’d be happy to have join your team and bring a whole new skill set to your workplace.