|Ever look at job posting and think, “Jeez, no way I can apply! I don’t have all those credentials and degrees!”|
And yet, you’ve been the field for 15 years. Or 20. Or more.
Let me share a secret with you: Requirements in a job posting are a wish list.
They are every single thing the employer would love to have if they could design an employee in a lab and add any ingredients they wanted. 🤖 🧪
In reality, they will get applicants who have varying levels of experience and meet some, but not all, of the requirements.
If you get an interview, they will look at your successes and ask you about these, sizing you up to make sure you can really deliver.
Ideally, the firms you want to work in will hire you if you have enough experience, understand what they do, and can step in and do the work, and—this one’s big—you fit their culture.
Because “soft skills,” the ones that help you get along with people, make decisions, and display resilience, figure largely in hiring decisions.
However, it’s good to know that today we’re dealing with some trends that can affect the process.
Here’s one you may have noticed: Not all companies see it this way.
You may have seen complaining on social media about employer expectations, long hiring processes, and mystifying “passes” on uber-qualified candidates.
There’s a lot going on right now. Companies are trying to figure out how to structure their workplaces to attract and retain candidates. But there is another reason why this is happening, and it’s one that isn’t new.
Kevin Wheeler, author of a great newsletter for recruiters (and a guy who is pretty spot-on about a lot of recruiting trends) recently covered it in an article about the problem of “credential inflation” feeding unrealistic employer expectations.
Kevin, addressing recruiters primarily, says,
“Many firms have a set of beliefs around what makes an exceptional employee or a so-called ‘A’ player. For years high-tech firms, in particular, have only sought graduates of elite schools with high GPAs. Competition is high for these graduates, and salaries have been equally high.
This has spilled over to many other industries and has led to an inflation in job requirements. Positions such as secretary or bookkeeper, which used to require only a certificate or two-year degree, now require a four-year degree or more.
These requirements became associated with the so-called ‘A’ players believing that they would outperform those with lesser credentials.”
Problem is, it’s not always true.
Ever seen that A-level champion fail miserably after being traded onto your favorite team?
Now recall all the rookies who then stepped up and saved the day! Yep. Give a hard-working, skilled person a chance to prove themselves, and voila!
Wheeler points out that relying on narrow definitions of success, picking only the “star athletes,” is misguided.
And in fact, as he explains, and as research has backed up, the world’s most successful companies (like IBM) have recognized that everyone in an organization has the potential for success. They have historically provided training and development opportunities for their people, and, indeed, they have discovered many talents among their work force.
They also realize that companies need people who can put ideas into action; not just genius leaders who come in and impose their assumptions on everyone.
Because the reality is that it takes a strong team to make a strong company. It takes different kinds of thinkers. And that’s good news!
It takes people who enter with experience but without formal degrees; candidates who haven’t done that exact job, but who demonstrate they know how to work with others to solve problems; folks who have worked in a neighboring industry and bring with them valuable perspectives.
It takes, well, a LOT of us!
“But, Ruth,” you say, “I can’t change their way of thinking! I can’t make them hire me!”
But here’s what you can do:Know your requirements for a workplace: its conditions, its environment, its work approaches.
Take a careful look at every company on your list. Ask people who work there what their jobs are like and what the management styles are like. Is there opportunity for professional growth? Where have the most recent hires come from? (You can also look up employees on LinkedIn and check them out, see where they came from.)
Ask vetting questions if you get the chance: How do they approach projects? What are some of their challenges? Why did the last person leave the job?
Know your value. Show that, for instance, you are adaptable, that you’ve gained knowledge on the job, and you’ve solved significant problems because you get how the system works. These abilities translate between industries.
And pay attention.
If you don’t get the offer (or even the interview), consider that a great opportunity to look at how you’re explaining your value. Because it could be you. Maybe you’re not matching up with their needs.
But it also could be them. They could be one of those employers looking for a drag-and-drop-multi-degreed-super achiever. If so, be thankful for the redirect! Remember, you’re not alone. It’s easy to get discouraged; to think that you need to be superhuman to get hired. I know and have seen this isn’t true.
I truly believe that you will be successful and find a job that suits if you keep going, keep showing your well-rounded qualities, keep sharing your successes, and keep asking the right questions. (Just heard from a client who stayed the course and got her offer!)
Need help? I’m here! Let me know and let’s schedule a call.