Do You Have to Fit a Job Posting Exactly?

(Spoiler alert: No.)

Let me tell you a secret: Sometimes, hiring managers write job postings, and then they don't remember what they wrote. Sometimes they make a rubric based on their job posting and carefully compare every application to it, and sometimes they're so busy, inexperienced, or overwhelmed by applications that they just pick out the ones that sound generally like they fit what they're looking for.

What this means is that you should not automatically rule out applying to jobs where you don't fit every single criterion on the posting exactly. You may have to work harder to make a case for yourself as a candidate, but you were going to do that anyway, right? If you can convince a hiring manager that you would do a fantastic job in a specific position, then they're going to bring you in for an interview no matter whether you check all the boxes on the job posting.

I always tell clients: Don't assume you're not going to get hired before you ever apply. Let the hiring manager eliminate you; don't eliminate yourself because you think a particular skill you don't have is the one thing they really care about. And do you think the person writing the position description can really make that fine of a distinction between someone with 2 years of experience and someone with 3 years? No — they made an educated guess about how many years of experience they'd like a candidate to have.

To a certain extent, you need to be realistic. For your own sake, don't waste your time putting together an application for a position that requires 10 years of experience when you only have 2 years and are missing half the skills they're looking for. But if you genuinely think you could excel at a position, make your case! Let them be the ones to say no.