Woman reading job description in the newspaper.

Job searching can be a very exciting process, but it can also be a trying time. It’s easy to feel defeated after sending multiple applications and hearing nothing back from employers. Looking at more job descriptions and seeing qualifications that are out of your depth can further add to the mindset that you don’t measure up. However, it’s important not to discouraged. At the end of the day, you have to remember that a job description is simply a wish list. We’ll talk more about what this means, and how it affects your job search.

The Dream Candidate

When an employer is composing a job description, they have a clear picture of what they believe their ‘dream candidate’ looks like. They focus on a specific number of years of experience, a certain level of education, and ideal skills and traits. These are what become the requirements for the job description. Every employer believes that this list represents what the perfect candidate for this job will look like. However, that may not necessarily be true. A job description is just a wishlist for what that employer thinks would work best.

While those requirements are what they think would be the right fit, that may not be the truth. An employer may also not realize this until they are interviewing the right person, even if they don’t match all of the qualifications. That of course couldn’t happen unless the employer has an open mind in their search. It would require them to give someone a chance who doesn’t necessarily fit all of the criteria. While that may seem like a long shot, you’d be surprised by how many employers do just that. Until the right candidate is sitting in front of them, no company knows exactly what they want, even if they think they do. So what does this mean for your job search?

How It Affects You

First of all, it’s important not to get discouraged. Deciding that you shouldn’t apply to a job just because you don’t fit 100% of the qualifications may keep you from applying to the right job. It’s usually worth it to submit your resume even if you have a few less years of experience, or if you are only proficient in 2 of the 3 skills they want. Even if you don’t hear back, you should never let that keep you from applying positions that you may seem slightly under-qualified for. Obviously you shouldn’t be applying for a management position if you don’t have management experience. However, if you fit the bill at least 75%, it’s usually a good idea to apply.

The more resumes you submit, the higher the likelihood of you finding the right employer and the right job. Make sure you don’t just apply to positions where you meet all of the qualifications. Apply to a few where you might not meet all of the criteria, within reason. This will get your resume more exposure and who knows? It may just land you the right job. With that said, it’s important to have a wishlist of your own as well.

Keeping an Open Mind

Before you begin applying, or sometime during, you should establish what you are looking for in a new job. Do you want to work for a small company or a large company? How much money do you want to make? What do you want your schedule to look like? All of these questions and more are things you should be asking yourself. When a company composes a job description, they have a clear cut idea of what they want. When you are looking for a job, you should do the same. Don’t allow this wish list to discourage you from applying to jobs that aren’t perfect, but use it to weigh your options.

Between job seekers and employers, neither party knows exactly what they want until it is right in front of them. Realizing this will greatly benefit your job search, and keep you from being discouraged. So the next time you come across a job that you are only mostly qualified for, consider applying instead of grumbling and moving on to the next posting. It may just be the right opportunity in disguise!