Don’t Meet All the Requirements for a Role? Why You Should Apply Anyway


It’s easy to question whether it makes sense to apply for a role when you don’t meet all the criteria in the job description. In some cases, you might feel that your work experience doesn’t quite stand up to the requirements. Or, perhaps you are missing a specific technical skill that’s been listed as essential. Many people opt out at this stage and decide not to apply because they feel they’re wasting their time in doing so.

But there are often good reasons to apply for these positions, especially if you are an experienced professional. We’ll highlight the main obstacles job seekers face in this situation and explain how to take job criteria into account when applying for a role.

The Top Reasons for Overcoming Hesitancy When Applying for Jobs

1. The competition will vary

Firstly, it’s important to bear in mind that you won’t ever know the real level of competition for a particular position. While employers usually describe the ideal candidate they’re looking for, not all the applications they receive are from people who meet every requirement. You may be as qualified as everyone else who applied, which will give you a chance to be selected for an interview.

2. Employers know the perfect match doesn’t exist

A significant proportion of job requirements are ‘nice to haves’, rather than essential or non-negotiable criteria. Hiring managers usually craft a job ad based on what they imagine is the perfect employee for the role, but they also understand hiring someone who ticks every single box is rare.

3. You’re expected to learn some things on the job

Hiring managers understand suitable candidates for a position will also have development potential – people who can grow into the role and acquire new capabilities within the business. Managers ultimately like to hire people who can be promoted over time. With this in mind, note that an employer will look for evidence of basic core skills and how you can build on these while you’re in the role.

How to Apply for a Job When You Don’t Meet All the Requirements

1. Give examples of your most relevant work and expertise

If your skills and experience obviously match most of the job criteria, be sure to give the most relevant aspects of your work history and qualifications as much prominence as possible. This includes any CPD, EngTech, IEng, or CEng qualifications you might have, along with roles in similar disciplines or adjacent industries.

In your CV, use examples of your work to demonstrate the relevance of your experience, such as your proficiency with a certain type of process equipment, data modelling, software programs, HSE standards or managing a team of people in similar positions or environments.

Think carefully about other skills or experience you have that would make you more effective in the role, but which aren’t specifically mentioned in the job criteria. The more applicable these attributes are to the role, the more likely they can make your application stand out. The key principle here is relevance – try to see your application from the hiring manager’s point of view as well.

2. Tailor your CV and cover letter with the right keywords

When writing your CV and cover letter, use strategic language that links your experience and current skills with the wording in the job requirements. Where you can recognise specific phrases and terms in the description that match your experience, include these instead of your own wording. That way, hiring managers won’t need to make assumptions about which elements of experience fit with the role and they can identify you as a potential employee with a simple scan of your application.

3. Highlight your transferrable skills and ability to learn

Whether you’ve worked in the same industry but in a slightly different discipline, or vice versa, you will likely have a range of strengths that put you on equal footing with ‘perfect’ candidates. Regardless of the specialisation, virtually all engineering roles require numerical skills, problem solving, research skills; laboratory, factory or plant experience; data analysis, project management, teamwork and communication abilities.

To convey your transferrable skills, highlight past experiences with examples related to staying on budget, increasing efficiency, discovering and solving safety problems or demonstrating innovation and creativity. You could also demonstrate how you keep up-to-date with the latest industry trends and regulatory developments relevant to the role.

By giving examples, you can show a hiring manager your adaptability and interest in continuous learning, which are vital characteristics for any engineer, regardless of experience.

4. Show your passion for the industry, role and company

Although you can’t rely on passion alone in a job application, you can enhance the impression you make by showing enthusiasm and engagement for your work. In your cover letter, leave space to explain why you’re interested in the role, the organisation and the industry. You could also share details about your hobbies or volunteering experience relevant to the role. Show the hiring manager the commitment behind your words and that you’re keen to make your mark professionally.

Avoid Underselling Yourself

The phenomenon known as ‘impostor syndrome’, which can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success, can affect even the most skilled and experienced engineers. Believing that you don’t have what it takes for a role – despite years of experience and achievements showing the contrary can be a major impediment in your job search.
While we all can experience some feelings of inadequacy, it’s imperative that you stay as objective as you can about your professional value. Before you start a job application, list all the skills and experience you have that are above question. Memorise these and become comfortable with talking about them.

For help with building more confidence, speak to your current and former colleagues and managers to gain more perspective about your achievements. These people can provide you with guidance and reality checks.


For experienced and qualified candidates, it’s useful to treat job ads as though they are a set of guidelines about what a position involves rather than a strict set of criteria. Limiting yourself to positions that exactly match your skills and expertise can reduce your opportunities for job interviews.

Making a fair appraisal of your own skills and experience will give you more confidence when applying for roles where you don’t meet every requirement. Showing you’re passionate about the role and industry can help illustrate some of your personality and motivation in your job application.

Speaking to a recruitment specialist can also help you uncover positions you might not have previously considered based on the selection criteria. A recruiter can give you honest advice on your potential fit for the best engineering jobs currently available in the UK. Are you keen to find out more? Get in touch with our team of engineering recruitment specialists to find your next role.