“Desired Qualifications” Are Not Optional

"Desired Qualifications" Are Not Optional
Last week, a client emailed me about a position of interest. Upon looking at the position, I noticed there were some discrepancies between the résumé I had created for my client and this posting. I sent off an email asking for more information about his skills and experiences in the areas outlined in the job posting. The response I got back from him referred to being more focused on the required qualifications, not the optional ones.

Optional qualifications? I went back to the description and quickly discerned that he was referring to the “desired qualifications.” Quickly, I wrote back to educate him on this topic, and, with his permission, am now sharing the gist of our conversation with you.

Just because a job posting refers to some qualifications as “desired,” the criteria listed there are very important to the job! While requirements for a position are the bare minimum needed to even be remotely considered, the desired qualifications are skills and experiences that the company really wants.

The company has included them on the job posting because they point to skills sets that will allow them to complete projects and achieve corporate objectives. Desired qualifications will help businesses stay competitive in their respective industries. If you have them, you will likely get further consideration; if you only meet the minimum requirements, you essentially have nothing that will add value to a prospective employer.

About the only time that I would conditionally say that job seekers could apply if they don’t have several of the desired qualifications is if they know someone who is already at the company and can vouch for their skills, work ethic, and ability to learn quickly. Even then, I would be hesitant to completely give my blessing because companies tend to not like applicants who are unqualified.

From their perspective, having to filter through those candidates to reach the ones they are looking for wastes their time. Do that enough times to the same company and you could get blackballed by them. This can even happen if you have been doing the same thing to businesses throughout the industry (yes, HR folks do share stories and can discover that the same unqualified candidate has applied). Sadly, even when a candidate does come back with good experiences and skills, s/he can end up getting automatically rejected because of past applications.

What is your take on a job posting’s qualifications? Have you ever gotten a job when you didn’t have many of the desired qualifications?

Image courtesy of Enokson

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  1. Aaron Brinker
    Twitter: dadblunders


    I think the qualifications for any job are extremely important. I know that if I was looking for a surgeon I would want him to be fully qualified to do my surgery. I might have a problem if he considered some the job as unimportant or optional….just my opinion of course but I have a feeling many people would agree with me.

    Aaron Brinker aka DadBlunders

    • Melissa Cooley
      Twitter: TheJobQuest

      Hi Aaron,

      Without a doubt, qualifications are important. I think some of the problem is the mismatch between the expectations of employers and the candidates. They each see things from their perspectives and act based on that. Applicants may see themselves as being a good fit because they have some of the skills required and that they can pick up the rest on the job (presumably because they are fast learners or they have knowledge in a similar area). However, companies perceive such candidates as risks because there isn’t proof of them doing exactly what is called for in the position. With the job market still being competitive, companies are the ones with the advantage,


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