Fitting the Job Description

This week’s blog post is written by Chaloner’s VP, Kassie Wilner. Kassie has been a recruiter with Chaloner for the past 10 years. She has led numerous searches for external and internal communications professionals. Prior to working with us, she was a communications consultant to public agencies in California.


Everyone at one point in their job search happens upon a job they want to apply for, but for which they don’t completely meet the qualifications. When should you still apply, and when should you treat the job description as law? Some of our clients are more flexible than others, but here are some basic guidelines depending on the area in question.

FIELD
Should you apply to a job in an area in which you don’t have much experience? It depends. Sometimes your interest can be a valid supplement. Let’s say, for example, you’re applying to a mission-driven non-profit dedicated to a cause in which you don’t have professional experience. You might still want to apply if it’s a strong area of personal interest that you can easily articulate and demonstrate. The reverse is true here, too: if you have neither the experience nor the connection to or passion for a potential job’s field, keep looking for one that does genuinely engage your interest!

FUNCTION
At Chaloner, we’re often contacted by people who are looking to branch into a different job function. How do we know if they’re qualified? It’s important to look at the big picture. If you’ve been in a broad communications role at a small company and are eyeing a specialized communications role at a larger company, it might be worth a shot. In this proposed case, you’ve probably handled that specialization on a smaller scale at your previous company, which could have prepared you. Changing function gets more challenging at a certain level; in Investor Relations or Marketing, there’s less flexibility. When in doubt, look at the job description to see the job responsibilities and see what you’re qualified for!

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
When it comes to years of experience, candidates can get intimidated. If the job description says 20 years of experience is required, is that true? In a word, yes. Some clients simply don’t feel comfortable hiring someone below a certain number of years’ experience. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a little digging to see exactly what they mean. Total years of experience is different than years of experience in a management position, and depending on what the job demands, you may have more years under your belt than you think. If you’re a little under (or a little over!) but meet the rest of the qualifications, it’s probably a good idea to apply.

Ultimately, each company is different and the degree of flexibility with which they treat their job qualifications varies. But plenty of people currently excelling in their jobs wouldn’t check every box of their own job’s description, so if you feel passionate and meet most of the qualifications, sending in your resume—and a compelling cover letter—can’t hurt!