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I'm in the search for a new job (am currently employed), specifically for one particular job. I know that I will only be applying to company A and to a specific position; it's a software development job. Would it be wise to email their HR person to express interest and ask what skills specifically I should learn for the job?

For example, the job is medium level, but they occasionally accept juniors. They expect for applicants to have expert skill in languages X, Y and Z, however, I only have above average knowledge of those. Even though, I am very motivated to work there, since a lot of people I know work there, and they say the work climate is very pleasant. Is it considered rude or a bad idea to email the HR person to put me on their radar? I have talked to some of the people I know and they gave me tips, but they have no hand in the hiring process.

  • if you know people working there can't you ask them to refer you for particular open position? – nightfury101 Jan 31 at 10:37
  • The HR person is likely to have a list of requirements, and may have nothing more. It's unlikely the HR person really understands the requirements well enough to be really helpful, at least not more than a list of requirements from an ad or recruiter. – David Thornley Jan 31 at 19:09
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Would it be wise to email their HR person to express interest and ask what skills specifically I should learn for the job?

Yes. and No.

Yes, you can email the HR department expressing your interest for "the" job (specific position / role), but you should not ask about "what skills you should learn". If you're interested in a specific position, that indicates, you know the context of the job and at least an overview of the job profile / description. Required technology / skills are part of that. A "software development job" is too broad description for a specific job.

Instead, you brush up your resume and cover letter, which will show why you are a fit for that role / position / job and let them do the rest.

Otherwise, if you're not sure of the requirement or job profile, simply state that in that communication and be open for any available position they have to offer. This shows you are interested in working with the organization and if they have an opening which matches your skillset and expertise, they will get back to you.

Looking for a specific position and then asking about the required skillset is likely to create a negative impression (example: The inquiry is not serious and based on hearsay).


Disclaimer: If you do not like to read opinion-based response, you should probably stop reading here

Having said that, a bit of personal opinion:

Never use the words "What I should learn / do for the job / position?". Rather use "What are the requirements for XYZ role / position?", or, "What experiences / expertise you are looking for in the applicant for XYZ role?".

While both carries the same meaning, the later questions come across as more positive. At times, the first question may create an impression that you are desperate for the job/position/offer, minus the actual "involvement". Show them you are interested, neither desperate, nor careless.

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As a general statement, HR people / internal recruiters are usually busy enough finding qualified people to fill the roles they are recruiting for, without random people contacting them out of the blue asking for free career advice. In any case, busy or not, offering such advice is not their job. It seems unlikely to be a successful approach.

(Personal advice is not the purpose of this site either, btw - but the question you ask is one that's reasonable to ask generally, so I'm answering that, not offering you advice specifically).

Instead, in such circumstances it may be worth making a speculative application. A politely written, personalized email (one that does not look like spam), showing understanding of what the company does and what they require, and a convincing explanation of why the applicant might be suitable even if they are lacking specific criteria for any advertised roles (if there are any), is always worth a try.

  • Best case scenario, they decide to hire at a more junior level, or keep the application on file for future consideration.
  • Or they may reply saying "sorry, we are looking for someone with more experience in X", which could be useful information.
  • Even if they just delete it, they're unlikely to hold it against the applicant for a future application, unless it is particularly badly written!

Such a speculative application will need to be focused on the job. The applicant would be asking for a job, not to (for example) be paid to hang out with their friends. And, since the applicant will know what job they are applying for (in general at least, "software development" for example), the applicant must already have some idea of what's involved in that career, or else they wouldn't be looking for a job doing it. Right...?

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