Through my work with Artisan, I read a lot of job descriptions. Chances are – if you’re here reading this blog – you probably do, too.

Some of those job descriptions are in my areas of expertise and some are not, but they all have one thing in common: the job requirements often sound incredibly hard to meet!

In my career as a performer, I do occasionally run across a job posting that might as well say, “Wendy Stackhouse, please send in your resume ASAP.”  But not often. There just aren’t that many operas with witch, bird, or insect roles out there. Never, however, have I seen a job description in business that perfectly calls my name.

The question for today is: how important is it that you meet all the requirements on a job listing?

The answer, of course, is: it depends.

Suppose the job listing says “5 years experience required.” If you have only 3 years but meet most of the other requirements, then go for it. If you have 1 year, don’t waste your time.

If you’ve been working in your field for a while, you probably have a lot of skills that are transferable from one industry to another. Oftentimes, however, the job description might require a specific industry background. With the creative industry specifically, there is the added element of design aesthetics or copy voice to consider as well.

In these cases, if you’ve spent years in finance or healthcare – you probably can’t transfer easily into something like retail or entertainment. Don’t waste time applying if a job specifically requests this experience. If, however, you’ve worked for an agency (with a variety of clients) or you’ve done some freelance work for a client in this sector, you can probably sell yourself a bit better into the position. Go for it!

There are some companies out there who will not even review applicants without a college degree. If you are in the process of finishing your degree, even part-time, you can list a B.A. or B.S. as “in progress” and often make it past the circular file – if your other qualifications are on track.

However, in the creative field, the lack of a degrees can often be made up with “equivalent years of experience in the field”. If you meet all other requirements (without being overqualified for the position), and you are only missing the degree – it’s definitely worth your time to apply!

My coaches tell me that if you have 80% of the requirements, you should definitely apply; 70% you should think about it. In either case an effective cover letter might be enough to get you to the next round of screening.

How do you do the math? We would love to hear in the comments!

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative