I admit it. What I’m about to suggest you never do, I’ve done before.

While searching for a job, I’ve applied for ones I don’t exactly qualify for.

If you’ve done this too, My reasoning for this it probably similar to yours. I reasoned that whoever saw my resume would read into a few things about it or me:

  • Reliability: In the past, I’d stayed with the same company for a long period of time. That automatically made a me a good candidate, in my mind.
  • Transferable skill sets: I’ve hired, trained, and managed teams. I also have a wide range of administrative skills. Shouldn’t those skills/abilities easily transfer into many types of roles?

While it wasn’t a completely illogical train of thought and some hiring managers will be somewhat flexible in evaluating candidates’ work history, I was missing a piece of the puzzle that I now know about from just being a recruiter.

Many more hiring managers are not flexible and would prefer to leave a post open until they find the “the one” that matches their wishlist. So, if you don’t 100% meet the requirements listed in the job ad, your application will only waste your time, and theirs.

As far as recruiters go, the good ones will be even more stringent as their job is to present only the top talent to hiring managers. They are not reading into your resume as you may expect them to. They look hard and fast to see if you meet the basic requirements, first, and then qualify you based upon whether or not your resume contains keywords that are contained within the job description.

Therefore, my suggestion is that if you see an ad for an open job, and you don’t meet at least 4 out of 5 of the listed requirements, save yourself the effort and don’t apply.

You may argue that lots of unqualified people are hired for jobs that they later on learn through training. Unqualified people don’t get hired by applying, however. They get hired by knowing someone.

All too often, I hear thecomplaint, “I’ve applied for so many jobs and no one’s calling me back.”

So many jobs, you say? Let’s think about that for a minute. Especially if you’re a number of years into your career and have taken a specific career path, chances are that only a small number of open jobs in your geographic market are going to actually be a fit for you. So what are the many jobs that you’re applying for?

If you’re unemployed, I understand you may think you just need any job. But if on paper you appear to be over or under-qualified, chances are employers will be too apprehensive to consider you at all. Also, if you’re taking the time to apply for jobs correctly, you will not be able to apply for very many jobs as each application will require a slight customization of your resume/cover letter to the specifics of each posting you’re interested in.

If you’re ensuring the jobs you’re applying for are appropriate for you, you will significantly increase the ratio of responses to applications. You may not get a job any more quickly, but your search will be less arduous and frustrating. Or, you may get a job more quickly because you’re able to spend the time putting effort into one quality submission that will get you a call back, instead of rushing through five, for instance.

To recap- Avoid applying for jobs you’ll never hear back on by:

  • Ensuring you meet at least 4 of 5 requirements in the job ad. If there are 10 requirements, as an example, make it 8 of 10.
  • Know that the hiring managers aren’t always going to read between the lines or consider transferable skill sets in your potential.
  • Recruiters/Headhunters will be even less flexible and spend less than 10 seconds reviewing your resume. If you don’t match the bullets in the job description or have the right keywords you’ll be passed on quickly.

One last thing to consider is that unfortunately, being a serial applicant or applying for jobs you’re not a fit for can get you blacklisted by recruiters or entire companies. As a recruiter, it’s never a good thing when you present a candidate to a hiring manager and the first thing they say is, “I’ve seen his/her resume before.”

If you seem overly eager or can’t follow instructions before you even get an interview, chances are you’ll be judged as having low potential to do well on the actual job.

Hopefully, this information will be helpful as you make the next move in your career. Check back in the near future more tips on career development and improving the results of your job search!