Should You Apply, or Not?
The time and effort it takes to apply for a job easily qualifies as "hard work!" Applications take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the requirements, not including the time it takes to browse job descriptions.
Don't feel bad if you've been hovering over your computer, trying to decipher which opportunity is the right one for you.
If you're like me, you probably go back and forth, contemplating if a position is worth the time of creating a customized resume and cover letter. Your emotions might go up and down while you review the exhaustive list of requirements, preferences, tasks, and so on.
It's perfectly natural to wonder, but it might be easier to have a set of criteria to make a strategic decision. Here are five questions that can help streamline the process:
5 Questions to Help You Decide Whether or Not to Apply!
1 | Do you meet the requirements?
Start here! You may need to scan toward the bottom of the job description (JD) to find the requirements section. But that's because you'll need to meet all the requirements to apply for most jobs. There are some caveats, but usually, they are explained in detail in the job description, so be sure to read until the end.
When it comes to education requirements, you may qualify for a position through "equivalency." A position may specify that a four-year degree or eight years of work experience is required. The job description explains education and experience equivalencies to provide a fair and clear expectation for all applicants. If an equivalency isn't listed, it's safe to say, it doesn't exist.
2 | Did you decipher the job description?
As positions become more specialized, JDs are a portal into what you'll do if hired. Companies put thought into the language used to describe the position, so pay close attention to everything listed and decipher any hidden meanings.
Examine the order in which expected tasks are mentioned since they are often listed in order of importance and frequency.
It's also important to pay attention to tone and verbiage. Are they playful, conservative, or traditional in the way they describe tasks? You'll want to match that tone in everything you submit to apply.
Use everything you've learned about the position to sell yourself accordingly in your personal marketing materials (resume, cover letter, etc.).
By utilizing the JD, you can learn everything you need to know to decide if you should apply or, keep scrolling.
3 | Are you too focused on the job title?
Companies are getting creative with job titles. Years ago, when a position was listed as Director Level, you automatically understood the decision-making power and supervision that came along with it.
Things have changed, there have been new employees who negotiate a higher title to avoid a lateral move, but without supervisory roles and responsibilities. Eventually, when that person is replaced, the title isn't re-evaluated or downgraded.
It means titles don't represent the same position across the board, so be sure you understand the full capacity of positions by reading the entire job description.
When mysterious positions with cryptic job titles show up in your job search, don't judge them by their title alone. You may find a hidden gem.
4 | Are you looking past the preferences?
Requirements and preferences are different. The Application Tracking System (ATS) and Human Resources Department tend to use the "requirements" of a position to weed out candidates.
"Preferences" simply denotes that the hiring manager is hoping for additional characteristics. If you don't possess what's being described as a preference, it won't count against you, apply anyway!
5 | How qualified are you?
As you review the tasks associated with the position, be sure to keep a tally of how many tasks you feel qualified to do. Just a reminder: If you apply for a job you're 100% qualified for, you're going to be bored, as there will be no room for growth.
My advice is to apply to positions you are at least 60% qualified for! By applying to positions where you still have room to grow, you create a work environment that challenges you. This allows you to use your creativity to solve problems. These situations can provide a much happier work experience.
Use the Stop Light Method
Print the job description and underline items in green, yellow, and red, similar to a stoplight.
Items marked "preferred" - Underline in green. Don’t let these items keep you from applying. Items that are labeled "preferred" are simply a wish on the part of the employer. You should still proceed by applying.
Items that you have experience with - Underline in yellow. Focus on how much you underline in yellow, if it's at least 60%, proceed by applying. If less, consider slowing your approach. Learn more about the company and position, then reach out to an internal contact to get more information (use LinkedIn.com to find that contact).
Items marked "required" - underline in red. Human resources will typically use these items to disqualify candidates so.
BONUS | Does your resume make it clear you're qualified?
You must show yourself qualified. Each position you apply for will focus on a separate set of top qualifications, and so should your resume.
Be sure to customize the branding section on your resume for every position you apply for. Make it easy for the reader to see you as the ideal candidate they've been looking for.
If you've worked with a skilled resume writer, they've likely created a branding section that sells your top qualifications, outlines your accomplishments, and showcases your industry-relevant highlights that will hold the readers' attention.
Allow these 6 questions to guide you. No more wasting time wondering. With this guide, you can decide sooner rather than later and spend your time working on applications you feel confident about!
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