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Are You Qualified For The Job?

Millions of Americans are waiting with bated breath to see what will happen with the unemployment supplement provided during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the supplement end date has passed and no new legislation extending or even modifying the supplement has been enacted. As such, those millions of unemployed workers who were depending on their unemployment benefits to get them through the virus are now scrambling and flooding the job market. Without a doubt, possibly millions of resumes will be sent out this week in hopes of alleviating the financial pressure Americans are feeling this week. 

If you are one of those Americans looking for a job, I would like to provide you with some useful tips so you only apply for jobs for which you are qualified. I know, there are stories about people sending out mass resumes and blanket resumes to companies, and they land jobs. However, in reality, those stories are rare. During my healthcare administration career, I have reviewed possibly thousands of resumes, and I selected and sorted applicants based on their qualifications for job postings. When you see a notification that you were "recommended to the hiring manager," that was a role that I played. In order to get recommended to the hiring manager, you have to first meet the qualifications.

1. Required Qualifications. Job descriptions posted online have a lot of information in them. All of the information is useful at some point in your job search. However, to me, the most important part of the job description is the Qualifications section. Let's face it, you have to meet the qualifications of the job before you can get hired. Before you apply to the job, scroll through, and find the Required Qualifications section. It may also be called the Skills Required section. In order to apply for any job, you should meet not some, but all, of the items listed in the Required Qualifications section of the position description. If you do not meet all of the qualifications, don't apply. For example, if the job states they would like someone with 10 years of business development experience, and you only can prove you have five years, don't apply. If the job description has a required qualification of someone with five years of quality improvement experience and you have 10 years' experience, do apply. You meet the qualifications.

2. Education. Some organizations will include education with the Required Qualifications section. This is another section that unless you have the minimum education required for the position, do not apply. I know there is a growing trend in this country to diminish or deemphasize the importance of education (which is ironic because more people than ever have degrees beyond high school). However, in the employment world, if the employer states the person must have an associate's degree for the position, they want someone with an associate's degree for the position. If the employer states they want a BSN and you are an LPN, don't apply for the job. If the job requires a master's degree, and you have an associate's degree, you are not qualified for the position. Each level of education someone receives provides them with a unique set of skills and qualifications. Think of it this way, would you let someone without a medical degree and years of experience as a cardiothoracic surgeon perform open-heart surgery on you? 

On the flip side of that, you shouldn't apply for jobs that are considerably below your education level. If you have a master's degree, please don't apply for a job that requires a high school diploma. If you do, you are telling the recruiter one of the following: you lack confidence, you have low self-esteem, you are desperate, you won't be staying in the position long. That doesn't start you off on very good footing in the eyes of the recruiter or the hiring manager, or yourself, for that matter.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

3. Preferred Qualifications. This section lists qualifications that the employer wants in addition to the Required Qualifications. Generally speaking, when applying for a job, if there are four Preferred Qualifications, you want to meet three out of the four. If there are five, you want to meet four out of five. In this job market, you may want to meet all of the Required Qualifications and all of the Preferred Qualifications. Here is the reason. Many employers, especially employers that receive government funding (and almost all healthcare employers receive government funding), have to provide a justification for why they are hiring an individual. They also are required to provide justifications for why they aren't hiring individuals. 

For example, three candidates apply for a job at WeAreUs Company.  Candidate A meets all of the Required Qualifications and the Education but none of the Preferred Qualifications. Candidate B meets all of the Required Qualifications, Education, and Preferred Qualifications. Candidate C meets all of the Required Qualifications and three of the Preferred Qualifications. Unless there is some other outlying factor, like experience or accolades, or other issues not noted, the candidate selected will be Candidate B. For most professional positions, employers interview five candidates. So, if you go to the interview, and the interviewer tells you that you are one of five candidates, that doesn't mean you are a "shoe-in" for the job. When you become one of two or three candidates, then you can start getting your hopes up. 

4. Desired Qualifications. These are kind of a "wish list" of qualifications for an employer. You don't have to have any of these qualifications, but if you do have them, be sure to mention them in your resume and cover letter. Usually, but not always, these are skills that are not required for the job. They may be skills that the last person who had the job possessed, or they may be skills the last person who had the job didn't possess. Imagine if you will, during the meeting to plan to hire a new employee, the hiring manager, or hiring team (because some individuals report to more than one manager) say, "We would really like it if the person could do...." That's what desired qualifications are. For example, if you are applying for a Planning Manager position, and the position has a desired qualification of SQL programming, you don't need to have skills in that area. If you honestly feel like it's something you can learn, you may mention in the interview that you are willing to learn it as needed. You may also mention other SQL skills you have in your cover letter or resume.

In review, apply for jobs in which you meet all of the Required Qualifications, meet all of the Education, and meet most if not all of the Preferred Qualifications. You don't have to meet all of the Desired Qualifications, but it would be nice if you met a few. By doing this, you will be applying for jobs that you are qualified for and you will be giving yourself a better chance at landing employment.