How to Manage the Job Posting Laundry List

Don’t weed yourself out of a job you want.

You see an exciting job posting, right up your alley of expertise.  It’s nearby.  The organization’s values align with your own.  And then you start reading.  And reading.  And reading.

Soon there’s an ache of nervousness in your belly as you wonder how you can possibly fulfill every requirement listed in what was once a job posting but has turned into a Hemingway-esque short story, but with more adjectives.

Your excitement turns to consternation as you ask yourself, “Should I really apply for this job?”

It takes a lot of effort to effectively submit yourself for a position.  Tailoring your resume.  Writing a great cover letter.  Checking with all your networking contacts to see if you can get a live human being to present your resume directly to the hiring manager, if you don’t already have a relationship with him or her.

So here are some criteria that may help with your decision.

1.  Do I want this job?

This is where you listen more to your feelings than to your head.  When you read the overall description of the job and its responsibilities, do you feel a sense of excitement?  Usually, when we read the right job posting, something inside us just clicks in and says, “I want this.”

If you hear that voice, proceed.

 2.  Can I do this job?

This is usually the scariest part of the process.  We know that job descriptions are wish lists.  It’s difficult to know exactly what the poster’s greatest priorities are.  In some cases, you’ll get some help– as when the organization separates “must haves” from “nice to haves.”

If you stack up very well with the long list of requirements, then of course you should go for it.

But sometimes we can’t check as many boxes as we’d like.  Then we have to ask ourselves, “Am I qualified strictly according to the laundry list of this job description?  Maybe not.  But am I qualified according to my experience and expertise, and what I know about my ability to do this job well?”

If the answer is yes—go for it.  You may have to overcome some resistance.  But that’s where your personal P.R. machine kicks in, bringing your persuasive people and writing skills into play.

Make the case that your 10+ years of professional experience add up to more value than the advanced degree they seek.  Or that you may not have five years of formal marketing experience, but your eight years in a sales role constantly called on your marketing savvy—including developing and maintaining your own social networking campaign.

3.  Talk to the hiring manager first

I have had many clients who have been able to arrange brief phone conversations with the hiring manger in advance of submitting themselves for a job.   They’ve made contact via LinkedIn or other connections, and have set up a call saying, “I’m considering applying for this position, and I’m wondering if I might have just a few minutes to ask a couple questions, just to make sure this is the right fit.”

There’s a lot you can learn, and you’re likely to be respected for wanting to make the best use of the organization’s—and your—time.   And this can greatly improve your odds of being formally interviewed.

4.  Don’t weed yourself out

If you’re interested in the job and think you can do it, don’t weed yourself out.  If they weed you out in spite of your best efforts—their loss.

May the new year bring you the courage to go for the job you deserve; and may that new job bring you years of fulfillment.