Yes, you should apply for that job

In college, I wanted to take a pottery class. I knew, however, that I have no innate talent, so it was unlikely I could get a good grade in such a class, so I didn’t take it.

Looking back on that experience, I realize how ridiculous I was. It was a 0.5 credit class. I probably could have taken it pass/fail instead of graded so it wouldn’t influence my GPA. But even if I had taken it and gotten a C, it was a 0.5 credit class. And I don’t think it would have affected my admission to graduate school or my current career.

But, I didn’t take it because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough.

Today, I saw a post by Adam Karpiak on LinkedIn where he talks about my fear of failure:

Yes, that same principle that would have me taking a pottery class as an undergraduate is telling you to apply for a job you’re not 100 percent qualified for. Even if LinkedIn is already telling you that 300 people have applied.

Sure, with 300 applicants, you’re unlikely to get the job. But you might. Your competition applies when they are not fully qualified, and you should too. You may have something special that they feel like they can’t train someone else to do.

For most things, of course, just about anyone can learn to do them. The questions are simply:

  • Are you willing to learn?
  • Is your company willing to support you in the learning phase?

If the answers to these questions are both yes, you have a good shot at that job. Most jobs don’t have 300 applicants, and even those that do, most will also not meet the complete list of qualifications.

Yes, some recruiters will find it super annoying that you were not perfect when you applied.

Recruiters that do stuff like this are horrible people. You do not need horrible people in your life.

If you meet 60ish percent of the qualifications for a job that you want, apply. Just like taking that pottery class would not have torpedoed my academic success, applying for a job you’re not already perfect at won’t hurt you either. And it could help you.




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6 thoughts on “Yes, you should apply for that job

  1. Over the course of 30 years, my recruiting teams hired thousands of folks in what were always tough talent market places. We were always competing for cutting each talent with other employers. We needed to attract top performers, that is people who could do the technical performance requirements of the job, but even more importantly fit into our culture. We had a staff referral process in place. We were surprised by the number of referrals we invited to apply who never did. So we went out and talked to some of them. Here is what we learned.

    1. Top performers are also top learners. If they had some of the relevant technical skills it did not take them long to learn the other ‘technical things’ they need to learn to do our open roles well.

    2. Top performers were motivated by challenged. When we switched to posting the 5 core challenges new hires would face in the 1st year on the job, we got many more applications from these folks.

    3. Top performers would quickly looking at a posting and decided one of three things, thereby falling into one of these 3 groups.

    A) This is a great job. It challenge me. I want it. I am motivated to apply for it. Let’s do what it takes.

    B) This job has the right title but the challenges in it are not ones which motivative me. So I will not apply.

    C) Much as this job appeals to me, I just don’t have what it takes to address these challenges yet. So I will not apply. But if I want a job with these challenges, I better set about acquiring the skill set and experience I need to ‘meet” challenges like me.

    Resume spam disappeared because Groups B and C self-selected themselves out of the running. . Our interview process with Group A focused on the future – what these candidates were going to do to meet these challenges, giving us much better data on which to assess both the performance and culture fit of the person to the open role. We evolved and eventually stabilized this process into the Performance Challenge Recruiting Process (described in “Recruiting Realities: Avoiding Bad Hires), which you can download from

  2. I agree that people should apply for jobs in which they are interested and believe that they can become fully qualified to perform. I’m not sure that I agree with the article’s saying that if you’re 60% qualified, you should apply. I would think that someone starting out with that large a deficit — should they manage to get hired, say, by acing an interview — would really struggle trying to perform, while also trying to upgrade their qualifications.

  3. There’s evidence that males are more likely to apply for jobs when they don’t meet all of the qualifications than are non-males. This is true to my own experience of working largely with women. I assume similar is true for other centered identities versus marginalized, e.g., white versus BIPOC.

  4. Considering the fact that most people exaggerate their skills on their resumes, this advice to apply to a job where you may not have all the needed background is not far off, especially if this specific employer is willing to develop their employees’s skills to fit the workplace standards without making any employees not feel part of the company. As long as new hires are not replacing the individuals who are helping them develop their skills to perform better for the job requirements and teamwork skills are also learned, no one should dismiss chances to develop new skills plus face the reality of realizing that no one is perfect.

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