I know that the answer to this question will depend somewhat on the organization you're applying for, but I'm hoping that the situation is general enough to be useful.

I am considering applying for a job that has four or five bullet-pointed requirements. I meet a majority of the skills represented in each bullet point but in several cases I don't meet all of them, though I have at least a familiarity with the skills required I am not competent in them.

In general, how literally should one take the requirement portion of "required skills".


7 Answers 7


Is it critical that you meet every requirement of a job you're applying for?

No. It never rarely is.

  • Job descriptions often include skills for the "ideal candidate" (whatever that means).
  • The truth of the matter is - The employer on the other end is looking to hire a candidate that at least meets the minimal requirements and can learn whatever else is necessary.

So the bottom line is:

  • When approaching for an interview, be prepared to demonstrate a mastery of the minimal requirements as well as any others that you feel comfortable with.
    • But also be prepared to prove to the hiring manager that you're fully capable of learning the other requirements listed on the job description.
  • 2
    I disagree that it "Never is", just that much of the time it is. Many companies strategically leave a number of open positions almost constantly, with no real intention or need to hire anybody. The reason for this is sometimes strategic, they may give away a large new undertaking to their competitors if their job board is empty one week and then suddenly filled with open positions the next. If the perfect candidate just happens to come along then great, they will snatch that person up, but then likely post an identical job opening immediately after. Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 14:24
  • 1
    @maple_shaft: Agreed. Please see my edit.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 14:57
  • The primary case where I saw requirements as actually required is government jobs and regulated industries where qualification requirements for employees are mandated by law. Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 17:12
  • 1
    Even some of the stated minimum requirements may not be strictly required, if you're otherwise a good fit for the role. Commented May 26, 2019 at 8:01

Many postings are horribly written by people who know nothing about the job. If you "must have" 3-5 years of experience in an area, are they going to reject someone with six? If they need an excuse to reject a candidate, they'll stick to the letter of the law. Once they identify a strong candidate, they'll probably look past a requirement or two (They'll describe that as an error, so it should have been under the "nice to have" section.

If it's just one job, what is there to lose? Just be careful you don't get in the habit of wasting your time (and others) applying for jobs where you don't qualify. You never know, you may apply for another position that you do qualify for at the same company and you've already made a first poor impression. They may not remember you, but they may have a database that does.


You are correct that it does depend on the industry and what the requirements are specifically. For example, there may be a certification necessary or a license to practice. Obviously if you apply to drive a taxi, you need a license.

In many industries, the requirements might be a bit more loose, and the company is listing the ideal candidate. Even if they list both 'requirements' and 'nice to haves', firms will often overlook certain required elements that are missing, especially if you possess one of the required skills that is very rare and hard to find. If you have a rare skill that is listed as required but are missing another required skill, I would certainly give it a shot. Good luck to you.


Consider the following:

  1. Ask your prospective employer on the gaps and their priorities. If the gaps are low on the totem pole, and you think you have the time to brush up, you're good. The employer is the final determinant of the priority. I've been offered a gig recently as a Java Developer where the job description was riddled with references from the .Net stack and the employer said "It wasn't important"

  2. At a basic level, you should be comfortable with the requirements. Not necessarily have them, but you should be able to take a look at the list, identify the gaps and say to yourself "I can handle this on the job". You will be judged on your ability to use those skills down the line. Yes, they're nice to haves, but the employer wants them for a reason, and when (not if) someone with the perfect 10 comes along... In my line of work, a fish will eventually be judged on its ability to climb a tree, provided it bothered to jump out of the water in the first place. See above.

  3. Be very wary of recruiters, they'll smile and reassure you, but the reassurance should come from your own will. The recruiters are just there to make the kill.

  4. Do a brief flyover of the items in the gaps, and evaluate for yourself how long it's going to take you to come up to speed with the skillset? If you think it's gonna take too long, you might wanna think more carefully.


It has a lot to do with the business, but I've seen that in general:

  • Years of experience are somewhat loose - if it asks for 3 and you have 2, but your experience is Absolutely Perfect - for example, you have a pretty good shot. If you are stretching to make it look like you've actually done work in this area, then probably not a good bet.

  • Degree programs are more about the training than the degree name - For example, a Computational Math Major can swing a Computer Science gig in an average job market if the Comp Math major can show that he's done all the comp sci coursework that the employer is looking for. Similar holds true for people who have been in the industry a long time and gotten the "equivalent to degree" type of experience. For example, 30 years ago, no one was a CS major.

  • Specific processes, procedures or activities - tend to be a bit open ended. If you've had similar experience, give it a shot, and be prepared to chat about how your experiences may or may not fit.

  • Certifications and other specific yes/no cases - there's a collection of qualifications that I think of as "yes/no" - Certifications, Licences, Clearances, Citizenship/Right to Work requirements - if you don't have it, you don't have it. These can be somewhat variable. In some cases, the company will simply not go forward, since the cost/time of getting you this qualification will take more than they can afford. In other cases, it was a goal or a marketing tool and they'll still consider you. It's very much dependant on the business case.

My big advice on any of these is - give it a shot and don't lie. Make your communication about what you CAN do, not what you don't have, or haven't done, and gear everything towards showing what requirements you can meet. When asked, be honest about any gaps.

No employer can ever really spell out in English EVERYTHING they want, and the intangibles are the most impossible and quite important. So give it a shot - the worst they will say is "no".


Usually they will specify the ones that you are required to have. While this includes certifications for some jobs, it can include other requirements as well. These include education, overall years experience, years experience with a technology, or years in a specific position.

Lack of these requirements being met on the application or on the resume can stop the process at the first hurdle.

Frequently they have these requirements because they are hiring for a specific position on a specific contract. The customer will allow the company to bill X$ an hour for senior developer (BS+10, or MS+5) but only (X-Y)$ for a junior developer. In some cases that can mean they can't pay you what you want, or even put you in the position.

For the requirements that are easy to screen, not having them can prevent you from getting an interview. The others can be addressed if you get to the interview stage. The decision to apply is dependent on the desire you have for that job/company, and the amount of effort it will take to apply.


From my experience, it really depends on the company.

  • some may be real blocker (Right to Work and such), and maybe even not mentioned in the requirements
  • some may be conditional (my friend applyed for job witch requires Driving Licence. He had none, otherwise was good fit. He was told to obtain it before end of probation time and was given the job. The company helped him (free unpaid days for lessons and such), he made it and he works there a lot of year now, driving with company car every week to deliver something to some customer)
  • some may be not problem at all (another friend had not requiered certification for some technology, still got the job. Later was found, that the technology was asked for by customer, who then choose another company to deliver, before the job ad was even published. The requirement was left there anyway, but was not required after all)
  • about request for years of experience please read https://workplace.stackexchange.com/a/114304/45217 (which explain, why that sometimes does NOT matter) and also read https://workplace.stackexchange.com/a/1485/45217 (which explains, why that sometimes DO matter)

Then there are also possible (and I know a lot of people, to whom it happened), that you will not pass for the position (say Senior Developer), but you will be offered other position (for you did not read ad and maybe even such ad was not issued at all) - say Junior Developer - as the company was in need of something like one Senior and three Junior Developers, but started with offering just the higher position and then asked those, who does not win the Big Price, if they would like the Smaller Price instead.

It happened often, that for some ad do apply people, who do not have the qualification to the extend needed for the better positon, but have at least something in the same field and meet the requirement set just at lower level, that fits the other position (from company view). And maybe if there would be more adepts quailified for the first position, then the best one would be given the best job and the others would not be turned just away, but offered little lower positions, and maybe some of them would accept (which is better for the company, than somebody skilled just exactly for the lower position ad). But if all non-winners (if there are more fitting adepts at all) would reject the lower position, then there is place for those, who did not met the (higher) requirements.

Also happened to my wife, that she applied for one of three offered positions at some company, even had all the qualification required and would get the position, but for her CV and interview was offered position in totally different part of company, which would fit here much better. There was no opening for such position, as the company did not even hope to get somebody good qualified for that. My wife was pleased with the position too and works there for many years now.

So even if you do not have all those requirements or if you have and do not qualify for the position, there may be some other position opened for you, which was not published - you will never know, if you do not try.

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