So you’re thinking about making a change in your career. You are looking around at job descriptions and wondering whether it’s worth applying. One area of concern is often whether you are qualified for the job.

When you are looking at job descriptions it’s really important to remember two things:

1. The person who wrote it is looking for Mary Poppins. They (might) know that it’s unrealistic and they won’t get a perfect match but still, they might get close.

2. Things may change between writing the job description and the interview and they might be open to other skills and experiences on the day. Understanding whether you have enough experience is relatively easy, do you have the specific or equivalent qualifications they are asking for? Do you have experience in that area? If so, how much?

If the employer is asking for 5 years and you have 3 years, it’s worth an application, if you have 6 months experience, it probably isn’t.

Some people get feedback to say that they are ‘over-qualified’ for a role. There are a couple of hidden messages behind this feedback, both are related. The first is that you might be ‘too expensive’ particularly if you are looking at taking a large pay cut. In this kind of situation it can be useful to be upfront about why you are applying, that you understand it is a drop in salary and explain to them why you are happy to take a pay cut.

It could be because you feel you will have more satisfaction in the role than in a previous role, it could allow you to work in a particular location/sector/hours etc. – it doesn’t matter what the reason is as long as you can justify it rationally. They may ask or you might offer to sign a contract to stay for a period of time to alleviate their concerns.

The second reason is that you might not feel challenged enough in the role. I am not saying that with more money comes more challenge; that will obviously depend on what challenges you. However, if you are going from a job with a lot of responsibility then that may not be true for a lower paid role.

It may be that you don’t want the challenge, that it is part of the reason you want to take another role, again, you can explain this to them. They may ask at interview.


Of course, it is a two-way process and if you are concerned about the responsibility/challenge in the role you too can ask at an interview. I would recommend a question like:

What would you expect me to achieve in the first 6 months if I were appointed?

Their answer will give you a good indication of whether or not you would be bored in the post or whether it would keep you focused and interested.

I am getting ahead of myself. If you look at the job description, feel you meet the criteria enough to apply (60-70% is worth an application), it is a salary that works for you and you think you would find it interesting then go for it.

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