Ever managed to find a job description that fits you, your skills and your experience completely? Unless you have been very lucky, the likely answer is no. It’s often stated that women only apply for a job vacancy if they meet 100% of the skills listed, while men apply if they meet 60% of the skills listed, so if you feel that a job is a good match and you would enjoy it and could grow in the company, here’s how to make the most of the job application and what you should tell yourself along the way.
Highlight your Transferable Skills
Most soft skills are developed in everyday working life, so if don’t have direct experience, use your indirect experience you display your soft skills. This might be through your current work, but also through any academic work you’ve done, and volunteering or interests you might have. You can then relate these experiences back to the job description.
Focus on your Cover Letter
Your cover letter is a great way to get employers interested in you, so use it to highlight your experience and qualifications. Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the organisation, the job role and the company’s ethos, and state where you see yourself within the company now and in the future.
Although the job description is there to hire an appropriate candidate, ultimately the company will be looking for someone who is a good fit, can deliver the results they are after and can grow with the organisation, and you can make this known in your cover letter.
Don’t take Job Descriptions too Seriously
Many job descriptions are pieced together, based on their previous job vacancies and similar positions at other companies. Because of this, lots of companies haven’t even given that much thought to what they want to see from candidates beyond a number of years of experience in a previous company. So there will be some hard and fast requirements, especially more hard skills such as knowledge of a specific programming language, however everything else is up for grabs. If you’ve researched the company, job role and industry and feel it matches your experience and passion you can make a strong argument as to why you would be a good candidate, you’ll be as good a candidate as anyone else.
Do your Research
You need to show companies that you really understand the role, the challenges, why this role is important to the organisation as a whole and what it is about you that makes you an ideal candidate. If possible, speak to the HR people organising the selection process and your potential line manager. The more you can engage in a dialogue with people inside the organisation and breed familiarity, the better.
While you do your research on the company, remember that the company might do research on you too. Perhaps most importantly of all, check your entire online presence to make sure the image you paint in the application is consistent across LinkedIn and your references.
You have Nothing to Lose
And finally, remember: there are upsides to applying even if you don’t get shortlisted. If you are applying for your dream job then it is worth the time invested in applying. It will act as a good testing ground for future opportunities and give you a list of what you need to work at for next time a role like that comes up.