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Job description wish list - is there a perfect candidate?

I have heard from many job seekers that they don't apply for jobs because they do not ‘tick off’ all the boxes in the job advertisement. Stop, this is the wrong approach!

Photographs: iStock

Text: Greete Eluri

You have to think of a job advertisement as a ‘wish list’ – it consists of ‘nice to haves’ and ‘need to have’s’. The trick here is that the advertisement itself is often written by someone from HR, not your future manager.

‘Need to have’ vs ‘nice to have.’

A job advertisement is just a wish list of which the employer thinks would work best for them. While these requirements are what they think would be the right fit, that may not be the truth.

Organisations evolve, and so do different positions. So, what worked a year ago for a job might now not be the same. An employer may not also realise this until the end of the hiring process until they interview the right candidate, even if they do not match all the qualifications.

Typically, a company has a set of ‘need to have’s and ‘nice to have’s’ yet they also can change during the hiring process. For example, once the HR has gathered all the best CV’s, for example, top five, and forwards them to the hiring manager, that person might not agree, because the ‘best candidates’ might be missing the most crucial skill. How can this happen?

You see, often the hiring manager is not involved in creating the job advertisement process. Therefore, what HR thinks has the ‘most weight’ in this position might be very different from the hiring manager’s point of view. It is the hiring managers decision who will join their team.

"What HR thinks has the ‘most weight’ in this position might be very different from the hiring manager’s point of view. It is the hiring managers decision who will join their team."

When the hiring manager reviews these ‘top five’ candidates, what often happens is, that, they discover a skill or another relevant competence, which is vital for them, yet not mentioned in the job advertisement. All of a sudden, you might have five candidates with quite different skill sets. They all might have something that is ‘need to have’ and something, that is ‘nice to have’ as well. Now, you have a completely new ‘job description’. Do you know what I mean?

This happened to me once – I sent my application, and I was not one of the chosen ones by the HR, yet the manager pulled out my CV, invited me for an interview and I got the job.

That is precisely why you should always research the company, and the employees working there, to understand as much as possible about the department and position beforehand. If you can do 60% of what is asked in the job announcement, apply for it – always. Otherwise, you will be missing out. Companies are often looking for the ‘perfect candidate’, but let me tell you a secret – it does not exist. Why? Simply, because as I explained earlier, the position and requirements change during the hiring process. So, the person who gets chosen in the end might be another profile from which was initially posted.

Female vs male job seekers

There is a reason why there are more males in top positions, both in Denmark and also in other countries. One of the reasons probably is that female candidates often downplay their capabilities. A male Marketing director once told me: “If women can do 40% of the job, they will not apply. If a male candidate can do 40%, they will apply and write an application as they are the best fit and can do it all.”

Research to find out what is most important in this job and what are the ‘nice to have’s’. Do not back down, if you cannot do it all – it is completely fine. Write a killer application and take a chance.

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