What Are Job Requirements?

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When you review job ads, you will often notice references to the qualifications for the position - or the job requirements. Those qualifications are deemed by the employer as essential to satisfactory performance in that job. They are the skills, experience, and attributes the employer wants to find in the candidate who is hired for the position.

What Are Job Requirements?

Job requirements may include specific skills, types and amounts of work experience, personal qualities, educational credentials, professional certifications, or areas of knowledge.

Job postings also may state that some other skills, experience, or credentials are preferred, but not required.

Employers try to be as specific as possible when listing job requirements in order to reduce the pool of applicants. They want candidates who are as close a match as possible to the job requirements in order to streamline the application process.

What do those requirements mean? It can be hard to figure out exactly what the company is looking for in a candidate. You'll find a lot of buzzwords in job postings, but what do they actually mean and what how do they translate to what the employer is looking for? Here's how to decode a job advertisement and a list of frequently used job search words and phrases with an explanation of what they mean.

Skill Requirements

Experience requirements may involve types of experience where candidates apply specific skills, e.g. “extensive experience programming with PHP.”

Experience requirements might include working with a specific population or in a specific industry or employment sector, e.g. counseling experience with battered or abused women, or advising experience in a college setting.

Requirements might also mention a combination of skills and a knowledge base that the employer is seeking, e.g. application of mechanical engineering designs to power systems.

Years of Experience

Experience requirements may refer to a number of years of experience either in a general way or in a specific role, e.g. five or more years of career counseling experience, or three years of accounting experience working for a financial institution.

Educational Requirements

Some positions will require applicants to have a certain level of education. For example, the job may require a high school diploma, a college degree, or a graduate degree.

The employer will list the educational requirements for the job in the job posting.  In some cases, related work experience, known as equivalent experience, may be substituted for some or all of the educational requirements.

What do you do, though, if you don’t have all the educational requirements for a job? If your educational background is a close match for the job and if you have employment, volunteer, internship, or learning experiences that would support your application, it’s worth taking the time to apply. If it’s obviously a stretch – the job requires a Ph.D., for example, and you have an undergraduate degree – don’t waste the employer’s time or your own by applying.

Matching Your Qualifications to the Job Requirements

It’s important to take the time to show the hiring manager that you’re a match for the job requirements.

Before you apply for a job, you should carefully review the requirements for the position, and reference as many of your corresponding qualifications as possible in your job application, cover letter and resume, and during job interviews. Here is more information on how to match your qualifications to a particular job description.

Should You Apply if You Don’t Have All the Job Requirements?

Even though a qualification might be listed as a requirement, you should still consider applying for attractive positions if you possess most, but not all, of the requirements. Often, job listings include a long list of requirements, some of which are much more important to the job than others.

Employers may choose candidates who excel in certain key areas but are lacking in others. When creating a job listing, employers imagine an ideal candidate, but they may never find someone who meets all of their requirements.

Therefore, during the application process, be sure to emphasize the qualifications that you do have.

The closer a match you are to the employer’s requirements, the better your chances of being selected for an interview.  These tips for how to tailor your resume for jobs will help you make that perfect, or as close to perfect as possible, match.

Related Articles: Job Listing Information | Educational Requirements for Employment | Equivalent Experience