Self-Imposed Barriers Job Seekers Need to Overcome

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Many jobseekers spend hours every day filling out job applications online. In today’s world, would-be-employees need to treat the job search itself like a part-time job to get the position of their dreams.

But even though a position might be perfect for them, some job seekers get scared off by hefty job requirements. There’s something in that job description they don’t feel confident about. It could be the years of experience required, level of education, or a myriad of other things. So they give up on that job and look for another position to apply for that they feel is more "on their level."

Moving on isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In a study by Workopolis, 75% of applicants for a given role aren’t actually qualified to do it. “98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening and only the ‘Top 2%’ of candidates make it to the interview,” says Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts.

However, being able to do a job isn’t just about the listed requirements.

The Harvard Business Review surveyed more than a thousand people, both male and female, and asked them the following: "Why didn't you apply for that job?"

  • 46.4% of men and 40.6% of women said, "I didn't think they would hire me since I didn’t meet the qualifications and I didn’t want to waste my time and energy."

  • 20% of men and 13.1% of women said it was because "I was being respectful of the time and preferences of the person reviewing applications they had already made clear who they were looking for."

  • 12.7% of men and 21.6% of women responded with "I didn't think they would hire me since I didn't meet the qualifications and I didn’t want to put myself out there if I was likely to fail."

  • 12.4% of men and 9.7% of women "didn't think I could do the job well," and just 8.5% of men and 15% of women noted they were "following the guidelines about who should apply."


When job seekers don’t match the job qualifications, their biggest reason for not applying is they don’t want to waste time and energy on a position they won’t get. However, job seekers don’t need to match every single one of the job requirements to get the job.

In an interview with The Muse, career coach Avery Blank notes, "The requirements listed in job descriptions are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. You don’t have to satisfy every requirement or meet every qualification listed. If your skills are transferable and you are in the ballpark with the number of years of experience the company’s looking for, apply. Applying gives you the opportunity to be considered."

In addition to this, the job market is currently a job seekers market. This means that there are more job openings than there are perfectly qualified individuals to fill those openings. An employer cannot afford to wait for an applicant that matches all the requirements to apply because that person might not exist. Instead, many employers are willing to hire talented individuals with the ability to be trained.

In the interview, it’s ideal for an applicant to focus on how quickly they were able to adapt to a previous position, as those same skills will come in handy for a new job where they don’t match all of the job requirements.

At the end of the day, every job applicant is different. The amount of applicants that perfectly match the job description is likely to be small. If a job seeker feels like they can handle the job, and they have the experience to back it up, they should apply.

Alyssa Chumbley is owner of Express Employment Professionals.

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