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Job descriptions are often broken down into a few main sections:

  1. a description of the company, team, work environment
  2. a description of the responsibilities of the position
  3. a list of required qualifications
  4. a list of desired qualifications (sometimes this is included in #3)
  5. more information about the company and/or benefits

Sometimes a person wants the job and has the required qualifications, but no related experience in the responsibilities. Given that, should a job seeker be more concerned with the responsibilities or the qualifications? How should these sections be interpreted?

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    "Sometimes a person wants the job and has the required qualifications, but no related experience in the responsibilities" - Related to this comment: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/1478/… – Brandin Nov 17 '15 at 10:03
  • Yes, actually, I think this sentence you've pulled out more accurately addresses the cause of the question than the question itself. But, I'm not specifically asking about years of experience, which the linked question focuses on. – user70848 Nov 17 '15 at 15:42
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Should a job seeker be more concerned with the responsibilities or the qualifications? How should these sections be interpreted?

Why attempt to choose one or the other? Both are valid clues as to the nature of the job, and thus both should be considered by the job seeker.

The responsibilities should talk more about the job itself. The qualifications should talk more about the candidate.

Yet both together provide a picture of how the company envisions filling a particular role. As such they should be read and understood by the candidate, and referenced during interviews.

It can be powerful to tell an interviewer something like "I see you are looking for a candidate with experience in X, Y, and Z. Let me tell you how I've used those technologies successfully in my career so far." Then follow up with specifics.

It's also powerful to say something like "I see the person who lands this role will be doing A, B, and C. Let me tell you about how I've done all of those many times." Then follow up with specifics.

For both qualifications and responsibilities, it isn't necessary (or even desirable) to touch on the pieces that you lack. If it comes up, you can reassure the interviewer that you already know so much (many technologies, for example), that learning a new one won't be difficult. You can even talk about how you have learned new technologies in the past, for example.

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    I can see how you've gathered 105K points, Joe. – AndreiROM Nov 16 '15 at 19:14
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    And which one is more important is almost entirely dependent on the person doing the hiring and the nature of the job. For instance if a technology is new, I would likely be more interested in people who have shown the ability to learn new things who have business domain knowledge and have done the same type of responsibility, but someone else might really be looking for someone with that new technology because no one they currently have has any experience in it. – HLGEM Nov 16 '15 at 19:35
  • Exactly, you need to take a holistic approach to this instead of obsessing over details. – Lilienthal Nov 17 '15 at 13:44
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To actually answer your question, you should focus more on the responsibilities.

The Qualifications are essentially a wishlist for the hiring manager that is intended to thin the herd. 60% of positions I've held have required a bachelors degree or 5+ years in an emphasis, whereas I held closer to 1.5 years.

If you can do the job then you can do the job. If the hiring manager is dead set on hiring someone from his alma mater to make sure his university is still getting paid, that is his prerogative, but in my experience, a hiring manager will more likely take a competent human being over someone who spent 4-6 years living in a world of theory with no real world experience.

If you cant do the job, don't apply for it. But if you are only missing a piece of paper, don't preemptively take yourself out of the running. It's hard enough to find a job as it is.

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