Applying for a new job can be incredibly stressful. From putting together tailored resumes and cover letters, to finding a job that you’d like to apply for, there’s a lot to think about when looking for that new role. 

One thing that can confuse a lot of people is the way that job descriptions are written. The way ads are compiled vary drastically from company to company, and it can be difficult to understand if you properly fit the roles criteria. 

Over vs. Under Qualified

The easiest way of knowing that you perhaps were not qualified or fit for a role is getting a generic rejection letter, or worse not hearing back at all. On the flip-side, it’s not uncommon for candidates to go through rounds of interviews, only to be told at the final stage that they are ‘too qualified’. 

This can be incredibly frustrating and counter-intuitive, as it’s essentially being told you’re too good at the job. The real reason employers often say this is they are wary of a talented candidate perhaps not being challenged or engaged enough in the role, ultimately leaving it shortly after. 

While this is clearly not the case of every rejected candidate, it does raise the point that in some cases the best thing to do is to aim higher than your current role when applying for jobs. 

Can I do it?

It’s often only one program or skill that stops people from applying for jobs, concerned that they will be written off for not knowing one small area listed on a job description. 

Keep in mind also, that women are most guilty of this, generally not applying for roles unless they feel like they’re 100% qualified, whereas that’s not the same case for men (Harvard Business Review). 

The best way to approach whether you should apply for a job or not is to ask yourself ‘Am I capable of doing this role?’. If it’s only software or small detail holding you back, ask yourself if you’re willing and able to learn it for this role. 

Bonus qualifications are also nice to have, but not essential. So don’t stress if you don’t meet every little expectation setout in the job description. If you’re up for the challenge, apply for the role as companies generally want to attract ambitious staff that stay with them for several years, are happy in the role and have room to grow. 

How to let them know you’re up for the challenge

When applying for jobs, use your cover letter to demonstrate relevant experience and other transferable skills you think are relevant to the job. While they may not have listed a certain skill, be sure to point out your additional experience that may set you apart from other candidates. 

Be positive, have faith in yourself and definitely don’t put in your cover letter ‘I may not meet all the qualifications but…’.  Phrase your application by focusing on other additional skills which may not be in the job description, but be of use to the employer. 

So, should you apply?

There’s no such thing as a perfect candidate and you never know if you’ll be successful in a job application unless you try. 

So don’t view job descriptions as strict rules, but rather a guideline and if you can see yourself doing the role, apply even if you don’t meet the ad 100%. 

We’re proud to have ‘no ghosting’ as one of our main mottos at Discovered People. So when you apply for a job through us, you can be assured that we’ll get back to you with feedback. 

Best of luck applying, aim high!


Get in touch with the Discovered People team here for a confidential chat about your next role here


Written by Ebony McCabe for Discovered People