I don’t meet all the job criteria, should I apply?

Ange Connor

One of the most common pieces of feedback I hear during career coaching sessions is ‘I didn’t apply because I didn’t meet all of the key selection criteria.’

Very rarely do I hear this from men, yet the majority of females that I provide career coaching services to, doubt their skill set and don’t throw their hat in the ring for a job unless they feel they meet all the criteria, even if they think it would be their dream job. This comment is often followed with a statement about how they think they could learn the criteria that they don’t currently meet but that they wouldn’t be able to “sell” themselves in an application or interview to address the criteria where they perceive they fall short.

Are you wasting your own time and the time of the hiring manager or recruiter by applying for a job that you don’t meet all the criteria for?

Absolutely not.

More often than not, particularly in this candidate short market, I am seeing jobs filled all the time where the successful candidate does not meet all of the key selection criteria. There are of course some critical key selection criteria for some jobs; for example if you are applying to be a Lawyer you are going to need the Law qualification. However, for those jobs where you might not meet all the specific skills and experience, I’d encourage you to apply.


If you are tossing up if you should apply for that job that has caught your interest, but you don’t quite tick all the boxes, here is what you should consider to help you make the decision:

  • Take some time out of your busy schedule to really reflect on what is making you hesitate in applying. Is your self-confidence holding you back? We sometimes need to step outside our comfort zones to grow and develop and stepping in to a job a little beyond our skill set is growth. If you think you can learn and develop the required skills or expertise and if you have the appetite and drive to invest in your own professional development to get the missing skills, you need to be brave and apply.
  • Don’t underestimate your transferable skills. When thinking about our skill gaps we often dismiss or underestimate some of the transferable skills we have. While you might not tick the box entirely of some of the key selection criteria, other skills that you possess are transferable and will be beneficial in ensuring you can develop the new skills required quickly and efficiently.
  • Culture and team fit over skills and experience. When I first started my career in recruitment the focus on recruiting a new team member was very much on qualifications, years of experience and existing skills. Fast forward to today’s job market and I frequently see less qualified, less experienced and lower skilled candidates being appointed to jobs over the most qualified, experienced or skilled candidate because the less experienced candidate will be a better culture and team fit. For many workplaces, culture and team fit outweighs skills and experience because most of the time you can teach those skills and develop that experience but if someone is not a good culture fit, you’ll never be able to change that.
  • Don’t focus on selling yourself. Instead, focus on demonstrating the skills and experience you do have through detailed examples. Selling yourself, talking yourself up, blowing your own trumpet, telling people how good you are; whatever you want to call it, is not what will win you the job. Being able to provide detailed and specific examples that demonstrate your skills will win you the job. If you don’t have a particular skill, don’t try and sell yourself anyway. Be honest and let them know you don’t have the skill set yet go on to explain how when you started in a previous role you didn’t have another skill set but explain and detail how you went about learning that skill set and what the outcome was. Demonstrating is so much more powerful than stating.


Still hesitating on putting in that application? Get someone else’s perspective. They won’t be emotionally invested in the situation like you are nor will they be looking at it from a self-doubt perspective. Ladies, sometimes we are our own worst enemy in holding ourselves back. Be brave and throw your hat in the ring; what’s the worst thing that can happen?

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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