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Essential Skills VS Desirable Skills.

Should you apply anyway?

That is the million-dollar question, isn't? It literally is a million-dollar question in the sense that you have a lot to lose from not applying and a lot to gain from applying.

I will be making the argument for why you should apply anyway if you are confident that you meet all the essential skills required.

I have spoken about this a few times now both on this website and to many people around me.

One of the earliest professional advice that I received from my Manager a few years ago was that I should never let the desired skills on a job description deter me from applying anyway.

I vividly remember him telling me that companies already know that it is impossible for one person to have every skill listed on a job description. In an ideal world, it would be perfect for them, but they are all realistic people. It is virtually impossible to tick every single box on a job description and if you keep waiting until you do, I am 99.9% certain that you will be waiting forever.

Let us get technical with the English language for a second. What does "desirable" mean?

According to, "something that is desirable is worth having or doing because it is useful, necessary, or popular."

It will be a great addition to your resume if you had those desirable skills. It might put you ahead of people that do not and make you and your job application seem more enticing to employers, but that is all it is. Desirable skills are worth having because they will help you do the job better or require less training time.

I would liken the concept of desirable skills to Icing on a cake. The icing is there to make the cake look pretty and delicious (if it is done properly) but the real substance here, the one thing everyone is looking forward to eating is the cake itself. What good is an icing if the cake is stale or downright tasteless. The cake in this analogy are your essential skills. There are some ingredients that are needed for a cake to qualify as a cake.

  1. Flour (Degree or other essential qualifications)

  2. Baking Powder (Professional Experience / Internships)

  3. Sugar (Hands on experience relating to the role or industry)

  4. Eggs (Team player)

  5. Butter (Other soft skills)

  6. Flavouring (Desire to learn more and improve existing skills)

If you can confidently say that you tick the boxes on at least 70-80% of the essential skills, my advice is to apply for the job. There are always a wide range of people from different background and with different skill sets applying for the same job that you have made yourself believe you are not qualified for.

Although my argument is for you to apply to the job anyway, I am not saying that the skills that fall under desired skills on any job descriptions are not there for a reason, once again, they act as icing on the cake.

Most desirable skills are gained through the job itself.

For example, if you are new in the industry, it is granted that you will barely have the skills that fall under the desirable category. Similarly, you will tend to find things like "must be willing to travel", "ability to work independently", "understanding of xyz principles". These are all things that will help you with doing the job BUT you can still get the job without it.

Give yourself a chance at that million dollars and you will be grateful to yourself that you did.

Do you have any thoughts or comments on this article, or have you had instances where you applied anyway, and it worked out for you? Share below.

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