Being Qualified Isn’t Good Enough In Today’s Job Market

be qualified

Being qualified isn’t good enough anymore.

This is a tough thing for most candidates to swallow. It’s tough because we’ve been taught to present our qualifications when we try to sell ourselves for a job … but it’s just not enough anymore.

… It’s not enough because there are many qualified candidates.

This is really difficult for many executive job seekers, because we’ve been taught to be proud of our qualifications. We wear our qualifications as a badge of honor.

It’s frustrating when being qualified isn’t good enough anymore, because we’ve been taught for years to have employers focus on our qualifications when applying for a job. It’s the only way most of us know how to search for a job – because being qualified used to be enough to be considered and hired for a job when there were candidate shortages and skills shortages.

Fast forward to today’s job market, where job shortages have replaced candidate/skills shortages.

In today’s job market, when you face an average 1,000 candidates for every job (an average of 500 in small companies), employers can find many qualified candidates – usually so many qualified candidates that there isn’t time to even read resumes of each qualified candidate.

When there are many more qualified candidates than resume reading time or interview slots, understanding how companies decide which qualified candidate’s resume to read and then to interview is critical. Good thing that most companies use similar basic processes to decide which resumes get read, who gets interviewed, and who stays buried in the database.

This means when there is an over abundance of qualified candidates, the candidates who best understand and manage the hiring process have the best chances of getting their resumes read and scheduling an interview.

Did you get that?

Understanding the hiring process is more important than your qualifications.

When you study employer hiring processes, like I do, you find many common threads. Sure big company hiring processes are a bit more complicated, but they all boil down to the same basic functions.

  1. Store resumes (in a common format) in a database.
  2. Use search tools to find resumes that match hiring manager criteria.
  3. Read the resumes that match the most criteria first, and forward about a dozen or so that pass visual screening.

You’ll notice it’s not all that scientific.

However, to really understand the hiring process better than your competitors, you need to gain an understanding of the people behind the process – by meeting with them and talking to them. Each individual has preferences, so the better you can understand what drives preferences for each person in the process, the better your odds at guessing what will impress them.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that different companies use the same criteria for similar jobs.

It’s impossible for an industry keyword list to do an adequate job of matching to employer search criteria. Different employers (even ones within the same industry) use different language, different words, phrases, jargon, even different metrics to describe the same thing. In addition, each employer (even each hiring manager within the same company) has different priorities, making different criteria important.

This means if you use employer A’s language to apply to employer B, your odds are poor that you’ll match many of the search criteria, because each employer uses different criteria.

Nothing is 100% in an executive job search, but there are specific ways to improve your odds. What I’m describing is using information gained from current company employees to drastically improve your chances.

But you’ll also notice that none of what I described has a thing to do with qualifications.

That doesn’t mean qualifications aren’t important.
When there’s an over-abundance of qualified candidates, it’s foolish to waste your time applying for jobs where you don’t meet the minimum qualifications. But just because you meet those qualifications, doesn’t mean you’ll get an interview, or even have your resume read …

… because it’s not enough.

About the Author

This article was contributed by Phil Rosenberg.  Phil is President of ReCareered, helping great people break through the challenges of modern job searches. Phil managed the Chicago suburban Financial and Technology consulting practices for recruiting industry leader, Robert Half International.