What are your tips in applying for jobs with a wishlist of expert skills – should I upskill first, and apply later?


  • @Geoffrey Bunting Thanks for clarifying. Yes, I always dedicate myself to specific questions on lengthier applications. I admire recruiters who ask challenging questions to fit their role. It's a gift to the applicant.

    When tailoring the CV, I think…
    – Rewrite the profile to fit the application (100-300 words)
    – Highlight relevant projects in career experience
    – Emphasise technical skills that fit

    Is there anything I'm missing here?
  • @Katy Mawhood The concept of replying to their points exactly is really something to be reserved for actual applications rather than jobs that just ask for a CV/cover letter. If you do so in a cover letter you're bound to run on for way too long. Rather, you want to make sure your CV is tailored to what they're asking for. It's not the most interesting way to spend time, but sending specific CVs rather than a general CV for every job can really help point employers to what they're looking for. It's also easier to be concise on a CV than it is when trying to put it in a paragraph on a cover letter.
  • @Geoffrey Bunting Thanks so much for the encouragement and realisation around an employer's fantasy candidate! I hear you completely and I've iterated my cover letter to be more concise and direct. Yet, this removes the opportunity to tackle each item on the Wishlist. How do you solve the balancing act between being concise, and targeting every bullet point?

    @Ross McClure Agree 100% – an appetite for learning is key and it should be about articulating quality of your upskilling, rather than the number of years. I think my problem is that where I've got the experience, I haven't used it in a few years. I'm sidestepping from one design trajectory back to a mainstream career route.

    @ɐɹoᗡ ɐuu∀ ˥ Agreed, employers should hire based on the packaged deal. I hope some of us don't get ruled out too early.

    @Tomomi Maezawa Laziness is great for optimisation – and I'm glad it's working out for you. I've known so many folk live by the motto "fake it 'til you make it".
  • I am very lazy about learning new skills. When I do, it is out of neccesity. Like, a client asks me if I can do X, and I say yes first, and then I learn by doing it.
    "Fake it until you make it" - my favourite RuPaul's quote.

    My short answer is “why not?” if you really want the job.
    I would check out what the company is focusing on at the moment, including recent trends in work. Then, if the skills are necessary and valuable for the job, and you will enjoy doing them, then it's worth studying. When applying for a job, be honest about the fact that you are a beginner and that you are keen to learn more. You should also highlight your strengths and how they can contribute to the future of the company.

    Good luck!!!!!!
  • Hi Katy,

    It really depends on the list itself. As an example some company has unrealistic expectation with even juniors knowling 10 different softwares from video editing through digital ux skills. If it's not the case than it's always good to up skill but don't let a job spec stopping you from applying if otherwise you feel your work and profile is a right fit for the job. People will hire you based on the full package not just by some features. Hope it helps.

    Feel free to check out my work on https://www.instagram.com/annadoralascsik/
  • As Geoffrey says, it's a list of 'ideal' qualities or skills.

    I would apply anyway but articulate your cover letter or CV to address how you fit the job with your existing skills.

    Remember that everyone is always learning and most jobs will require you to do just that.

    Having 1.5x years of experience doing 'XXX design skill' compared to the 3 years they are looking for shouldn't put you off!
  • I mean, a wishlist is just that: a wish. And we're seeing that a lot of employers are really living in a strange fantasy land when it comes to the requirements for even their entry-level jobs.

    So, in responding to a list of wants/needs I would say respond directly. Literally, list everything they have said and respond to it. So if they have something like "we want someone with a high proficiency in Adobe products" you can put a bullet point in the application that says:

    - We want someone with a high proficiency in Adobe products

    I have worked with Adobe products for several years at [insert relevant experience, be it work or school] and have reached a high-level of expertise, especially with Photoshop and InDesign.

    It helps really streamline the process of reading an application.

    And if you're not qualified, don't be afraid to apply. Often employers are copy-pasting from other jobs, don't know the level of competency they need, OR are asking for high-level skills in a junior position which is stupid. There's a difference between, say, a graphic design graduate applying to be an experienced sailor on a fishing boat and someone who isn't a super shortcut-using master of InDesign applying for a job that "needs" a high skill level with InDesign.

    It is competitive as hell out there, employers are doing everything they can to cut costs, and non-professional hucksters are rife. Be confident, be assertive, and don't be afraid to call employers out on the bullshit - through applying and having confidence in your ability, not necessarily tell them their bullshit is in fact bullshit.

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