Applying to jobs that you’re qualified for – it’s common sense … right?
You’d be surprised by what recruiters and hiring managers see come through the job boards…I’m sorry but a shift manager at Forever 21 shouldn’t be applying to a Director of Sales.
With that being said, here’s some advice on how to apply for jobs that you’re qualified for so you’ll actually get a response:
- When applying to a job, be sure to read the job description in full. I know some “Requirements” sections can be lengthy, but typically they’ll list years of experience, software skills, certifications, and management experience if needed, depending on the position.
- If you’re finishing college and looking to break into the big corporate world, does it make sense to jump into a VP/CEO/Director level position? Your resume won’t make sense to those reviewing applications and you most likely won’t get a call back.
- If your dream job is to become the CEO of Disney, start slow and work your way up. Apply for positions to get your foot in the door. Prove yourself and move up organically.
I understand applying for jobs can be stressful, but it’s nonsensical to apply for positions you know you wouldn’t be able to handle. (For example, if a job lists 15 years’ experience of managing large teams, but you’ve only ever managed your iPhone calendar, perhaps this isn’t the right fit.) Employers receive hundreds of applications and the last thing you want to do is throw your resume into the hat for something you aren’t qualified for. It leaves a bad taste in the reviewer’s mind and makes them question why someone who works at a popcorn stand would apply to a VP of Marketing position.
- If you’re one year short of the requirements, but feel confident in the rest of your skills, go for it!
If you’re ten years shy, hold off.
The point is: employers know what their team needs. And whether you like it or not, managers don’t always have the time or bandwidth to spend a ton of time ramping up a candidate that isn’t ready for the job. They’d prefer to bring someone in who has the skills to quickly jump into the company and hit the ground running. Recruiters can fight for you and explain your skills, but at the end of the day, we’re hired by the company to find the best fir for their needs – there’s no way we can stretch your internships to qualify you for a VP role.
If you’re genuinely trying to move to the next level career-wise and are struggling to make that transition, this might help:
Trying to land your first management role?
My suggestion would be to start taking on additional tasks at your current job first. If your boss asks you to do something, do it. If your co-worker needs help, volunteer to help them. Take action and stand out. Simple things like this can show your boss you’re capable and eager to take on more. Begin to document your new responsibilities on your resume as they come up. And remember: Leadership skills are often soft skills.
Job Titles Aren’t Everything
While you should check your skills & experience against the job requirements, you shouldn’t necessarily let a title stop you. If you’re a “Marketing Manager”, you might be ready to go up to a “Director of Marketing” title. Now, if you’re a marketing intern, you are not ready for a Director title (no offense, lol). Take some time to review the different positions in your industry and look at what title makes sense for your career progression. And vice versa, it becomes difficult if you’re in a high-level position and “downgrading” in a title. Employers will question why you’re going backwards, when in fact, maybe you skipped even receiving a mid-level title and landed a rare Director label.
Tailor Your Resume To The Job
When you read job descriptions, add key pieces of the role to your resume. Often times, we forget to add simple things such as Microsoft Office Suite, cold-calling, or metrics to our resumes. It might sound like common knowledge, but it’s important to list out specific details and responsibilities on your resume so it aligns with your current role. If you only list your title and place of work, employers won’t get the full picture of what you’re doing and will most likely write you off, compared to someone that clearly explains their positions. And please, do not add items to your resume that are not accurate. There’s nothing worse than falsely listing a skill, certification, or even a foreign language on your resume, to just be tested on it later.
1. Apply to jobs you are genuinely capable of doing
2. Continue to take on responsibilities at work to help grow into your next position
3. Move up the ladder intentionally (without jumping around titles too much)
4. Add key job functions to your resume to enhance your career story