Great Resumes Fast » Career » Should You Apply Even If You’re Not Qualified?

A friend of mine recently left his position at our former company to start his own business.  He has 15 years of excellent work experience, including 10 years of managing others, and an MBA.  His former job is now advertised online, and over the weekend I met a woman who had applied for it.  This woman was unhappy with her current company and had noticed that my friend’s former position paid really well.  Interestingly, she failed to notice much else about it.

I talked to this woman about the position opening at length, and was surprised to realize that she had barely read the job description before deciding to apply.  She told me about her previous work experience, which was only vaguely related to the requirements of the advertised job.  She was stunned when I told her that the position required managing a department of 10 people, and then it started to sink in that her lack of supervisory experience might hurt her chances of getting the job.  She also mentioned that the opening had asked that applicants have knowledge of a specific online database system.  She then asked me the most surprising question of all: “Do you think they’re really serious about only hiring someone who has experience with that system?”

At this point, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for this woman.  So I will offer you the same advice that I gave her.  There are dozens of candidates applying for most open positions these days.  Hiring managers will tell you that one of their main job duties is “shortlisting” these applications into a small pool of qualified applicants—in other words, disqualifying everyone they can in order to whittle the list down to only the best candidates for each job.  Many times, companies find themselves ruling out perfectly qualified candidates simply because they have too many from which to choose.  With this in mind, please do yourself the favor of not applying for jobs if you’re just not qualified.  Employers purposely write their job descriptions in order to attract candidates who are a good match.  If the ad says they’re looking for X, Y, and Z qualifications, I can guarantee you one thing: Yes, they really mean it!

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Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


  1. Rosemary Smith on July 29, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I work with employers on a daily basis and this is one of their biggest complaints. They are frustrated with applicants who do not meet their minimum requirements. So, if you don’t meet the minimum requirements, please don’t apply. If you apply for something you are not qualified for you will be remembered and not in a positive light. What happens when a position with that company opens up that you are qualified for? Will that recruiter or HR Manager believe what you say? Trust me, they are more than likey as not to remember you or at least your name and you may not get a second thought or be considered as credible.

  2. katie on July 29, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Unfortunately I think that many people have been out of work for so long that they are desperate to get a job and are sending their resume to any job opening they find hoping to get a job. A better approach would be to check the company’s website or call the company to see if there is a job opening that is better suited to your background and skill set.

  3. Christopher on July 29, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I disagree, if you have part of the qualifications you should apply. Especially if it is a high demand position. Many times a position may have very few applicants and your minimal qualifications can get you that dream job. Also I have noticed that almost every position posted out there asks for years of experience even entry levels. That makes it impossible to find positions that you are looking for if you don’t apply for ones that you aren’t fully qualified according to the description. Having been a supervisor I would hire someone slightly underqualified with great drive than a slug that’s fully qualified. The job I have now I wasn’t fully qualified for when I applied but because of my work ethic and abilities have gained $20000/year in less then 3 years. In other words, as long as you aren’t grossly underqualified, apply, it will not harm your carrier and you may get the chance to prove yourself and your dream job.

  4. Gabriel on July 29, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    I will keep applying to these jobs anyway, it is I got my current job.

  5. Ron on July 30, 2010 at 12:23 am

    I agree on only applying to positions where your skills closely match the job description. But if they only look at those who perfectly match the requirements, why then do I see job postings that set unfilled for months and months.

    As a rule if I match 75% of the general requirements and 100% of the specific technology requirements, I apply. Worst they can say is no. BTW it is no for other reasons.

    I applied for a position and within six hours I was sent my rejection notice. The site had a match you skills to jobs tool which showed I had a 95% match to the rejected job. My gut feel for the rejection is I am over 50 and unemployed (laided off).

  6. Annie on July 30, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Although the person in the article was employed, one thing I would like for employers & recruiters to remember is that most states require that those on Unemployment apply for at least one open position each week in order to continue to get benefits. Some states require 3 applications each week. You are often not allowed to duplicate until 6 months have passed. When you only find 6 jobs listed in your home city what choice do you have? We want to work! And we have to keep food on the table and a roof over our children’s heads. It’s apply or die. That’s often why you are getting so many applicants who are only remotely qualified. I am reading so many complaints about applicants that I think recruiters have no clue this rule exists. They seem to be very insulated about what is REALLY going on in the unemployment realm. Recruiters, do you know about this rule? Please pass it on to your employers and stop being so quick to put the unemployed in a negative light. If you have a job, it’s easy to be judgmental. Remember there are 3 million unemployed.

  7. ferd on August 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    This would be fine if employers and recruiters would write job descriptions that are realistic, and would also evaluate transferrable skills. I have no problem with requirements that will be truly needed and used, but many companies then pad their expectations to see what bonus skills they can get. Especially when they add requirements for experience with things that they might maybe consider doing some day in the nebulus future. The worst though is to be told that your almost identical experience is no use to them. As an example, I was told that my experience implementing the previous generation of a database system was no good – even though the version that this company was “thinking” of implementing was merely a slightly modified version of what I had used and also had a new name. Both the recruiter and hiring manager were blind. No wonder they cannot find their PERFECT candidate.

  8. Katherine Dibling on January 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    You should be in the ballpark when you apply for a job but fitting the description to a tee is not necessary. Don’t forget that most people get interviews because they have a relationship with the company in some way. Or, the recruiter knows the company they worked for or went to the same school, etc. Beyond a relative match for skills, getting a job interview is little about knowing someone and little like luck and, maybe, alchemy it seems.

    By the way, I just heard from a friend of mine who was interviewing for a manager’s job in public relations with a new university president. He more than met all the qualifications but after asking his own questions in the interview, he informed the President that what the school needed was a vice president of PR who was in on executive business decisions. He left the interview thinking that he overstepped his bounds. But the next morning, he was offered the newly created job – vice president of public relations.

  9. Jake on February 8, 2012 at 11:10 am

    With such tangible requirements as “excellent communication skills” and “success orientated” it’s a wonder that these companies are so frustrated that people don’t match their skills.

  10. […] the Author: A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. With more than ten years’ experience […]

  11. […] the Author: A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. With more than ten years’ experience […]

  12. […] the Author: A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. With more than ten years’ experience […]

  13. Berri on June 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I agree and disagree. First, yes, you should read the entire job description. After that do some research on the company. Use your sound judgement to decide whether to apply or not if you have most of the qualifications I say Apply. However, if you do not have the most important qualifications or if you do not over half I would reconsider applying for that position. Companies today are wanting to hire people that have multiple qualifications, does not mean they will get that or it will be the right hire so just use your judgement. Do not go by the salary of the position.

  14. Elizabeth on March 4, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    What if you are overqualified? For example, I’ve been working in an entry level HR position for the last two years, but went to school for Public Relations. I have recently discovered that I really want to pursue a career in PR, but need more experience (i.e. internships) to be considered for a full-time “entry-level” position. Am I too old to apply for internships? Am I not eligible for consideration because I’ve been out of school for two years?

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