When You Don’t Have the Required Years of Experience

When You Don’t Have the Required Years of Experience

Job descriptions often give very specific time requirements for certain skills. Should a job seeker apply even if they don’t have the exact number of years? YES!

Hiring managers often specify years of experience as an easy way to screen people or as a substitute for specifying the level of competency they require. It might be easier to just give a number of years of experience than it is to elaborate on what the ideal candidate is able to do. But, it might not be a meaningful measure. Hiring managers should think carefully before taking this shortcut and instead of focusing on number of years, find out the real competency level of a candidate.

What’s a job seeker to do when the job requirements ask for certain number of years of experience?

  1. Understand the level of competency the hiring manager is expecting
  2. Clearly demonstrate you meet or exceed that expectation, and show proven results

For example:

  • If the job specifies years of experience using a specific skill, share related training and certification.
  • If the job asks for years of experience in a specific industry, demonstrate how the work you did in another field is directly related and highlight the value you created.
  • If the job asks for years of experience doing a certain job, focus on the skills that job requires and bring out how you exhibited those skills and created success regardless of the job title you held.

Never lie or exaggerate your experience. It’s possible your truthfulness may cause your resume to be rejected by resume screening software or applicant tracking systems (ATS). It’s unfortunate these systems sometimes screen purely based on time spent doing a certain thing, not level of work and achievements. The best way around this is to also have your resume submitted by a company insider or someone with connections to the recruiter or hiring manager. This is another reason why having your resume advanced by a connection is the best way to get noticed.

Number of years of experience is irrelevant compared to achievements. Whether you’ve done something for many years or just a short time, bring out the value you created and the exact number of years will not be a factor.

Editor’s Note: An updated and revised version of this article is now available for Jobfully subscription members.  Learn the latest tips – “5 To-do Items When You Don’t Have the Required Years of Experience.” 

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