Finding the right fit (Skills) – Don’t get blacklisted

Finding the right fit is as much a matter of culture as it is skills. To properly master a successful job search, you need to be aware of both elements. Today’s article will focus on looking at the skill fit before you apply for a position. Next time, I will write about the culture fit.

On the skills side, you would be surprised (or maybe not) by how many candidates submit applications to positions for which they are not remotely qualified. A recent study showed that one of recruiters’ (corporate and agency) biggest “turnoffs” was candidates who apply for jobs they are not qualified for (followed closely by candidates who exaggerate their qualifications). 43% of respondents said they would go so far as to “blacklist” these candidates and remove their name from future searches.

Not the kind of impression you want to make.

There is a balance between applying for positions which might be a “stretch” and positions where you have not proven that you have the foundational skills to succeed. Most people are looking to move up in terms of responsibilities and compensation, but companies want to bet on candidates who can prove that they have done it before.

It is true that some companies will post ads looking for the “platinum” candidate when what they really need (and are willing to pay for) is a “gold” or “silver” candidate. Some firms even overstate their requirements to create a negotiating advantage in the compensation discussion phase. Since the chosen candidate doesn’t have all the skills that the company asked for, they offer a lower compensation. Here’s how it can play out for a potential marketing position:

What they ask forWhat they need
PhD in Applied MarketingBA in Marketing
10 years’ experience in the same industry5 years’ experience in a comparable industry
Ability to walk on waterAbility to quickly correct for the inevitable wrong turn

In the case above, there may be only a handful of candidates in the country with the skills the company is asking for, while the skills they need are much more available. Therefore, if you can tick some of the boxes (but not necessarily all), then it is worth your time (and the recruiter’s) to apply. If the company doesn’t find their platinum candidate, they may start looking at the gold applications they received. On the other hand, if the closest experience you have is handing out flyers to promote your dog walking business, it is probably better to move on to the next ad.

My advice to job seekers is to read the ads carefully. If there truly is a match between your skills and what the company seems to need, then by all means apply. If you find yourself making excuses to justify a fit, it probably isn’t the job for you.