Should you apply if you don’t fit the job spec?

Let me begin to answer this with a classic video of Maru the cat trying every which way to fit into a small box. Because sometimes, no matter how hard you try, or how much you want it to be true, there is no way that you are going to fit into that box! The trick is to recognise this upfront – before you waste a whole lot of time (and someone videos you for their YouTube channel).In my career as a recruiter, I’ve reviewed thousands of CVs and conducted hundreds of interviews for the recruitment agencies I’ve worked for (so happy to own my own now!). I’ve seen the good, the bad, the downright strange (read: entertaining). But the thing that I enjoy most about my work in the relatively niche world of European content and comms recruitment is getting to know candidates and finding the perfect match both for them and my hiring clients.Alas, as in any field, there will be people who are never going to fit the bill and it is a waste of their time, and mine, for them to apply for the job. So, in recruitment, who or what is the biggest time waster of all?It is the applicant who tries to adjust the posted job description to fit their circumstances.

Of course, there are sometimes a lot of ‘nice to haves’ on the client’s dream list. This is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the applicant who insists that I change some listed requirement to suit them.

You know the kind: the applicant who says they can do all of the job, but will need to work from home in Liverpool even though the job is in Paris, when the spec clearly states that the job is on site. Of course they’ll be there for most client meetings – as long as the client pays for travel expenses.

This is different from missing one or two ‘nice to haves’ and applying anyway. This is trying to tell the client you’re redesigning their job. If the spec says ‘No teleworking’, it should be translated thus: No teleworking. End of story.

A recent scenario…

Last month, for example, I advertised a job opening on Twitter. With only 140 characters to play with, this involved posting just the bare facts with an invite to continue the discussion from there.

The responses ranged from:

  1. A perfect match  – except that I will need to explain to the hirer that they can’t work on site.
  2. The job can be done but in a different tool that the candidate knows better.
  3. The applicant has no background in that area but can learn the client’s technology area in two days – if they pay for training (my personal favourite).

Three little words: Waste Of Time.

Still think it’s worth a try?

It’s not! If you take nothing else away from this post, remember this: the bare minimum requirements are non-negotiable and a job spec stands for job specification not job-hunter speculation.

So save yourself a Tweet, or worse, an entire job application. Go and do something more exciting with your free time instead. Because if you don’t fit the basic criteria, there really is no point. And that niggling voice in your head that says there is, is wrong.

What else do you need to know?

Of course, I recognise that people don’t actually do this on purpose – they don’t set out to waste their time and mine by applying for jobs that aren’t suitable. They just don’t know the rules of engagement or where the recruitment lines are drawn.

So, in that respect, if you have any other questions about job applications, becoming a candidate, or the general recruitment process here at Firehead, or if this has raised other questions, please drop your question into the comments and we’ll do a Q&A in a future post.