Am I qualified?

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When looking through job postings there is typically a laundry list of must haves and nice to haves.

How many boxes do you need to tick to consider yourself qualified?

Sometimes it's hard to tell if I meet enough of the wish list or if I'm just succumbing to imposter syndrome and discounting my skills to quickly.

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You'll hear various numbers, but I think if you have over 50% then you're in the running, and over 80% you might be looking at a lateral move (which is valid, but it's important to know if you're making a change to stretch your skills and challenge yourself or for a change in environment.

Those numbers aren't empirical, just my own personal model :D If it's a particularly ridiculous list you might be good with 30%, if it's only three skills then yeah, you should probably have them all haha!


Been running into an issue lately myself. I've been experimenting with my free premium trial of LinkedIn, and one of the cooler features is seeing how you compare to other applicants. In many cases, I'm in the top 25%, and in all cases I'm in the top 50% (of the relevant positions being looked at).

I'm a developer with no work history, but a few solid projects. I've had no interviews except for those where I've reached out to people on LinkedIn (cold touch). My most successful one was a couple of days ago where the person indicated they were looking for someone with more experience (posting said 1-2 years, and was my exact stack of experience). Because I am coming from a coding boot camp, people are discrediting my projects and saying I should focus on doing more projects on my own.

What they don't realize, is that these projects are 100% my own. They're not to-do lists, or Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/trello clones. These are full-stack, user database, built from the ground-up, my own ideas, wire-framing, MVP, user testing/feedback, unit testing, TravisCI implementation, etc. Not even Bootstrap is used.

How can one convey this depth of ownership of these projects in the six seconds someone looks at their resume?

P.S. The most recent person I spoke with did say that my resume was great, easy to read, easy to get to everything, and that all my projects answered questions without them having to ask them.


Spend a lot of time filling out your profiles on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Make your profiles as robust as your resume, if not more so. Add links, photos, whatever. Have a nice headshot. Have writing samples about your work to show your soft skills. Tell your story in your profiles.

Make sure your resume is ATS (machine) readable. Find templates for that online.

Then apply daily through LinkedIn and Glassdoor. That’s what I did - I came out of a Boot Camp and landed a software engineering job. Lean on your social network (I must admit a friend pointed me in the direction of this job.) Keep up the faith. Start with a “hybrid” job if you must. Target startups. You will get there!


"Qualified" may not be the most helpful way to think about it. Show me the smartest, most accomplished person in the world and I'll show you a million jobs they're not qualified for.

The question you should ask yourself is "Can I get a job doing what I want for the money I want in my local job market?" If the answer is "no" the question of if you're qualified or not is irrelevant. Do your research and make sure there are even jobs in your market.

If the answer is "yes", then you've just got to understand what that laundry list is for. A laundry list for a job is like a laundry list for someone you think you might want to date:

  • Good looking
  • Athletic
  • Wealthy
  • Kind
  • Ambitious
  • Humble
  • Spontaneous
  • Dependable

...and so on. Sure, those are what you want to date, but here's the thing: that's just a wish-list. In reality, you date who you can date when you think there may be a chance it can work out. Interviewing works the same way. Sure, you're looking for the perfect dev, but if one comes through the door that can do the job, you'll make allowances for whatever their flaws are.

The problem with these lists is that it intimidates people away from approaching companies, which hurts them pretty badly as it can scare away capable talent because they think they're not qualified - and capability is all that matters when it comes to employee productivity. My advice, be no more intimidated of approaching a company when you don't meet their qualifications than you would be if you walked up to someone who you wanted to date. Sure, you risk rejection, but as the saying goes, "there are more fish in the sea."

FWIW, I've done some pretty impressive stuff in my 20 years, and I don't match any of these lists out there perfectly. Thing is, I don't care, and the reality is neither do they. Provided I get them on the phone and we start talking my value will become clear - or it won't, and there are always more fish in the sea.


Not like the people interviewing you know any better.... Fake it till you make it. If you are comfortable with the job you apply for the you are not pushing yourself hard enough.

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Andrew Brooks profile image
Full stack software developer experienced in PHP, Laravel, Javascript, React, jQuery, MySQL, HTML, CSS, Git, Linux, Nginx, Apache and more.