When it comes to job searches, there’s an old saying that goes: “If you don’t try, you’ll never know. What have you got to lose?” Meaning, you should apply for all jobs you would like to land at companies you’d love to work for. Right???


If you are a newly graduated jobseeker who not only lacks at least a third of the technical requirements or qualifications AND you have no working experience at all, do you seriously think you will be considered???

I’ve worked in both agency environments and in internal Recruitment / HR environments throughout my career and I guarantee you this will backfire on you without fail. Applying for vacancies when you don’t have the minimum experience requirements labels you as unprofessional and none of your future applications will be taken seriously at that company.

You will be seen as desperate to get in or as lacking the mental capacity to comprehend that, without the required experience and skills, you aren’t equipped with the very basic requirements needed to do the job without setting you up to fail.

If you meet most of the experience requirements and you are close to what they are looking for, by all means apply.

By close, I don’t mean:

  • “because I am so desperate” or
  • “I really want this job” or
  • “I really need this job” or
  • “I can learn” or
  • “I am going to ignore your carefully constructed MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS needed to successfully deliver the business requirements of this job because I just know I can do the job if you just give me a chance” or
  • “I just sent my cv anyway because the job you are trying to fill is actually just a smoke screen you devised and you were really just advertising hoping for hundreds of people like me to send in their unsuitable and irrelevant cv’s for you to drop what you are doing and see if you can find anything in your company for me to do” or
  • “I know I won’t even get a second thought for this job but I applied so you could look at my cv, guess what job you think I would be good and at find it for me”.

You think this is funny? Well, it’s not! These are actual responses I get when I regret applicants, informing them they don’t meet the minimum requirements stated in the ad.

Let me put it to you straight… As a recruiter, I have relationships with my clients and I have relationships with my candidates. I have worked hard to maintain these relationships and do so daily. I care what they need to make their daily lives easier and my job is to partner with them and support them in achieving their goals and directives. My job is to marry the requirements of my client with those of my candidates and to make the perfect match between the two in terms of qualifications, experience, technical skills and culture. Only when the two are brought together to make a perfect fit, do I introduce them and is a happy, long-term and mutually beneficial relationship between the two cultivated.

A job specification is carefully thought out and constructed with the following considerations:

  • Do the deliverables meet our company needs?
  • What experience, skills and qualifications are needed to effectively perform the job?
  • Are there any other “nice to have” skills we are lacking in the team, that may be present from someone already doing this job elsewhere? i.e. What does the ideal candidate “look” like?
  • Bearing the shortage of skill in our country, what are the absolute minimum/basic skills, experience and qualifications the person will need without setting them up to fail? i.e. If they have only these, will our needs still be met?

Recruiters don’t only work on one vacancy for a single client at any given time. We often work 5 – 10 job specs at a time and the urgency to fill these is huge. Not because we want to make the sale – that’s a nice to have. We want to fill the job because our client has a need for the resource and without that resource, an area in their business will fall short, which could have a negative effect on the rest of the business areas and could either delay meeting the goals or cause long-term damage.

When we place job ads, we receive hundreds of cv’s in response. We screen every single application, often taking anything from 50 to 200 applications and putting them into an A-, B- and C-list.

  • A: Most suitable (candidate meets 95% or more of the specified requirements)
  • B: Almost suitable (candidate meets 70% or more of the specified requirements)
  • C: Unsuitable (candidate meets less than 70% of the specified requirements)

The C-list is BINNED. End of story. We don’t have the luxury of spare time and we certainly don’t keep the c-list candidates for toilet reading just in case we may be able to use it at a later date.

Sure, I do come across a cv that stands out to me every now and then and when my gut tells me there is potential, I pursue and actively market the candidate to all my clients who may benefit from what the candidate has to offer. Then, I file it online in the relevant database folder (I operate paperless, by the way) and always first search my database when new specs come in before advertising and looking elsewhere – existing relationships…

Written by Michelle Olivier – Talent Acquisition Specialist