Intimidating Skills List on the Job Description? Don’t Let Them Intimidate You

Intimidating Skills List on the Job Description? Don’t Let Them Intimidate You was originally published on Ivy Exec.

You’ve been sent a job description for a position that really interests you.

You’re reading the experience requested for the role, and you’re glad to see that you have most of it. But then you come to the last three skills expected from someone in the role – and you don’t have any of them. You’re suddenly discouraged.

Is it worth it to apply? 

If you have the majority of qualifications for a position, it still makes sense to send in your application.

Here’s why you should be brave and apply for jobs that you’re mostly, but not one hundred percent, qualified for. 


☑ Job descriptions detail ideal candidates, not the ones recruiters actually expect to find.

When hiring managers put together job descriptions, they’re not detailing the professionals who already hold the position or even the candidate they hope to find for the role. Rather, they are describing their “dream hire.”

“It’s therefore highly unlikely that any candidate will meet every single one of the criteria. For this reason, there can be a certain level of flexibility surrounding job descriptions. The hiring manager will most likely be open-minded when reviewing job seekers and applications, considering potential rather than looking for an exact match,” said Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, Hays Australia & New Zealand.

So, if you’re scared off because you think recruiters will receive dozens of resumes from candidates more qualified than you, think again. Many times, no candidates will have all the skills requested in a posting. 


☑ Recognize who’s likely to apply to a job posting – and who’s likely to be intimidated.

Men are more likely than women to throw their hats in for job postings for which they’re missing several qualifications.

Women, on the other hand, are more likely to apply to jobs only when they are 100 percent qualified.  

There are many reasons for this gender discrepancy, but what’s important to remember is that women are likely to compete with at least some equally- or less-qualified men for these positions. 

However, when women apply for jobs, they’re more likely than men to get hired. The LinkedIn Gender Insights Report notes that women are 16 percent more likely than men to get hired for roles – and that percentage increases to 18 percent when they apply for so-called “stretch roles,” or roles for which they may not be wholly qualified.


☑ Tailor your resume to the job at hand by using the language from the job posting in your resume.

If you want your resume to stand out, tailor it to the position you’re applying for.

This means that you should pick and choose the successes you describe so they demonstrate how you’d be a natural fit for the role.

What’s more, you want to borrow language directly from the posting in your resume. When possible, change the language in your bullets to match the language exactly in the job posting.

This means that if the job posting asks for someone with “process management and continuous improvement” skills, you use those phrases exactly in your application materials. 


☑ When applying for a stretch job, let your cover letter do the work for you.

Some companies may not require cover letters, but if you’re applying for a role where you lack some skills, this document can help you considerably. 

Specifically, use your cover letter to discuss how you’ve developed skills despite not having the type of experience they seek. For instance, you could talk about how an internship or volunteer experience gave you more years of experience than your actual professional background. 

You can also use your cover letter to talk about how you would enthusiastically develop the skills you don’t have.

“Maybe, for example, you’re skilled in Excel but not in Access but have already identified an online course that you could embark on to update your skills?

What’s important here is that you make it clear to the hiring manager that you are committed to your own development and have a natural thirst for learning new things,” suggested Deligiannis.


☑ Applying for a job when you’re not fully qualified can get you noticed by hiring managers.

You may apply for a stretch job that you end up losing to someone with more experience.

But that doesn’t mean that the application was a waste of time. Submitting an application can get you noticed by recruiters – and they may recommend that you apply for a similar role that lets you develop your skillset for senior-level roles.  

“Even if you’re looking for mid-level or leadership roles, applying will show the hiring manager that you’re proactive, driven, and open-minded – all skills that make strong job candidates. In some cases, putting yourself out there can also result in you being considered for a different role than the one you applied to,” said Janet T. Phan for Harvard Business Review.


Overcoming an Intimidating Skills List


Job descriptions are wish lists, not a set of absolute requirements.

So, employers don’t expect you to have every experience listed. Rather than giving up if you don’t have every requested skill, discuss how your background would be transferable and mention how you’d be excited to secure the additional training necessary to be successful in the position. 

If you’re not sure how to tailor your resume to a role with an intimidating skills list, consider consulting one of our one-on-one career advisors for resume help.

By Ivy Exec
Ivy Exec is your dedicated career development resource.