Assessing Candidate Suitability for a Role, Organisation & Job Opportunity

When to apply or when not?

Michelle Bentley – General Manager – Hender Careers – 3rd May 2022

Through my daily work I am often asked by clients / candidates to assess whether they should apply for a particular job or not. Yes, that’s right – let me do the heavy lifting!? 

But I understand why I am asked this question so often. So, it’s fine! Reassurance is a great thing when someone is job hunting, regardless of their situation. And expertise in looking at things from both sides of the recruitment and selection process can be best from an objective third party.

Understandably, a candidate doesn’t want to go to the time and effort of submitting an application and tailoring a CV and Cover Letter (tip - which they should do each time) if the job seems out of the ‘ballpark’ for a logical, realistic good chance to be shortlisted. And nor they should. Recruiters and talent managers do not take fondly to ‘tyre kickers’! It is very unwise to ‘submit and hope for the best’ with no real attempt to align yourself to the job, organisation or context of the company. That is a very poor strategy, unlikely to work in your favour.

So, some very easy steps to apply, in how to assess your suitability for a role, company and opportunity, are:

  1. Print out the Job advertisement / get the candidate information or Job Description
  2. Get 3 coloured highlight pens – green, yellow and red / orange or similar.
  3. Then highlight: 
  • in green – all the points, criteria, skills, qualifications / knowledge etc you currently have 
  • in yellow – elements you have in-part
  • in red – those that you don’t have!

What balance of colours falls into their Critical / Essential requirements or Desirable requirements? 

Do you ‘tick most of the boxes’ – green and yellow? Can you offset; diminish the things you identified as red – ie. mitigate against perceived risk of appointing you.

How does your career to date align to this role / business context, industry, sector considering also in terms of scope and scale? Areas such as salary level, reporting lines, direct reports and team responsibilities, budget management, scope of influence – internal and external.

You need to ‘connect as many dots’ as you can. Look to align with the organisation in terms of values as well as skills / knowledge, etc.

There is a general belief that women look to ‘tick every box’ to have the confidence to apply, whilst men apparently are more generous in seeing they can cover the gaps or any shortfalls quite quickly.

As an estimate, it is reasonable to look for a 75% (or better match) for greater hope of shortlisting. But it will depend on what areas you have or do not. If you have 100% of the essential criteria and none of the preferred / desirable criteria, then that may still be a strong application. 

It is important to look on balance of what are the greatest priorities for the role and candidate. Consider also what else you can bring to the role or company / how else can you add value – maybe a specialist something, or through breadth, or diversity of capabilities and experiences??

Supply and demand will also be critical factors impacting the calibre and number of long listed and shortlisted candidates. 

One should not be deterred from ‘having a go’ BUT do your homework first, seek a conversation with the talent manager / recruiter, if possible, and look for meaningful alignment between you and your career to date, your qualifications and training, competencies, skills and attitude, sector/ industry and culture fit.

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