Inside the Mind of Job Seekers: Why Apply if You’re Underqualified? [With Video]

Written by Darren Kanthal

March 21, 2024

A photo of human figures standing on top of a list of job listings

Video Transcription:

We’ve been exploring some of the challenges with the entirety of the job search process, including ghosting and the applicant tracking system — recruiters and candidates, really all the elements of the whole search. Today, I want to ask you, the candidates, why do you apply to jobs that you’re not qualified for? I’ve asked this question before and didn’t get a sufficient response.

The 65% Rule

So I’m gonna ask it again – if you don’t meet 65% of the qualifications, why are you applying?

I was talking to a colleague and we kind of landed on this 65% rule. When I went to high school 65% was passing, so 64% was failing. And we kind of use that as the barometer. So if you, the candidate have 65% or more of the experience and qualifications of any position, we agree that’s a reasonable threshold to apply. Yet, if you’re 64% or less, and you’re still applying, it begs the question, why?

Now, the same colleague of mine told me that he had 2000 candidates for one job, and those 2000 applied over the course of three weeks. Now, he didn’t give me any stats, but we talked about the majority of those candidates. So, 1001 or more were unqualified. Why are candidates — why are you applying to jobs that you are not qualified for?

You’re Adding to the Problem

Again, if you’re 65% or greater, wonderful, apply for it. That’s reasonable, but if not, you’re adding to the problem. And I have to say it directly: if you’re applying for a job in which you don’t meet at least 65% of the requirements, the criteria, the experience, you are making the whole process more difficult. You’re adding to a growing list of unqualified candidates, you’re adding [yourself] to a problem that results in 2000 candidates applying for a job.

I would love lots of communication and dialogue. I am curious: if you’re a candidate who applies to jobs with less than 65% of the qualifications and experience – why? What are you hoping to get? And if you are that person, what kind of response do you get? If you’re not that person, that’s okay, too, and I’d love your comments.

What do YOU think?

Now, I’m curious about your thoughts and comments. Let’s keep this conversation going! Feel free to drop me an email or connect on LinkedIn – looking forward to hearing from you!

Darren Kanthal

Darren Kanthal, Founder of The Kanthal Group, is a values-driven leadership and career coach with over 20 years of experience in HR and Talent Acquisition. Darren is intensely passionate about helping mid-career leaders cut through the BS, do the foundational work, and achieve their greatness.


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