15 Key Qualities that Offset Job Experience Requirements

Key Qualities“Do I meet the qualifications and experience requirements?”  That’s probably the most common question a young professional has heading into a job interview.  As a “young professional” manager for an Orlando based technology company, I feel like I may be able to rest some of those overly worried minds.  My brief management experience has been insightful on many levels.  Specific to this post, it has made me aware of Corporate America’s tremendous flexibility with supposed “job experience requirements”.

Employers Can Be Clueless

Most companies only have a vague idea of what they want in an employee.  In addition, on paper it’s extremely difficult to decipher one job applicant’s abilities from another.  It is because of these two points that companies usually compile a list of job qualifications and experience requirements that actually overshoot the position’s functional needs.  The employer’s goal is to simply weed out the inexperienced folks before they apply, leaving more time to interview the top candidates.  However, most of the time all this method does is scare young, capable talent away.

Flexibility Always Exists

One essential point you must be aware of is that most job requirements, especially those related to experience, are extremely flexible.  Requirements listed in an employment ad are usually just a rough sketch of the ideal hard skills specific to a job description.  Soft skills, on the other hand, are usually loosely mentioned in employment ads.  Yet when it comes to a formal interview, soft skills have the greatest impact on an employer’s perception of a potential employee. 

People Hire People They Like

Managers will hire people they like before they hire the most qualified or experienced applicant.  That’s the bottom line.  Never let the supposed job qualifications or experience requirements stand in your way of applying.  If you know you can handle the job, you are probably the employee the employer wants.  All you have to do is make them aware of your potential.

Here are 15 key qualities that can offset job experience and qualification requirements:

  1. Confidence – If you are confident in yourself, others will notice it.  It’s much easier to believe in someone that believes in them self.
  2. Enthusiasm – Enthusiasm is contagious.  In a professional environment it excites the people around you and makes them feel better about what they are doing.  In an interview it hits two birds with one stone by displaying your personal drive and simultaneously making the interviewer feel content.
  3. Positive Attitude – Negativity is always a direct turnoff.  A positive attitude immediately sets a productive tone in an interview.  This in turn gives the employer some insight into your potential within a productive employment environment.
  4. Compatible Personality – As I stated earlier, managers habitually hire people they like.  They also avoid applicants with potential personality conflicts.  This can be a tough quality to work on.  Personalities usually either click or clash, but you can always present yourself as a team player with the willingness for change.
  5. Industry Awareness – General industry awareness pertaining to current trends and events can go a long way in showing your motivation to learn and grow within the field with which you are applying.
  6. Lateral Leadership – Leadership is universally applicable across any field of work.  If you’ve been successful in a leadership role, even in an setting lateral to the one you are applying for, it’s worth discussing in an interview.
  7. Education – Education does not necessarily replace experience.  However, if you have truly excelled in secondary education and earned degrees relevant to the job for which you are applying, it can get the employer’s mind off your lack of experience qualifications.
  8. Communication Skills – Without them, you lose.  Straightforward, intelligent communication makes you look confident, prepared, and trustworthy.  It gives you the ability to sell yourself to an employer and sets you up to display many of the other qualities on this list.
  9. Lifestyle Stability – Possessing a stable track record with past jobs, schooling, and even the law always works in your favor.  Employers look at stability as a measure of your loyalty to others.
  10. Appearance and Dress – While appearance isn’t everything, it can make you look older, smarter and more emotionally mature.  It’s all a mental game of psychological perception.  Some people do judge a book by its cover… sadly, that’s just something you will have to deal with.
  11. Open Minded Flexibility – Displaying a flexible and open minded willingness to adapt to new environments and tasks makes you look like someone who could get any job done.  And that’s all an employer really wants, someone who gets the job done.
  12. Quick Wit – I’m certainly not suggesting that you start wise cracking, because that won’t get you anywhere.  However, showing the interviewer a certain level of friendly sentiment toward a topic that naturally arises during the interview can help you out.  It gives the interviewer the perception that you are able to look at things in a positive light, and it also attaches a subtle speck of your real personality to all the dry questioning.  People with a likeable personality stand out from the crowd.
  13. Determination – It’s always good measure to clearly express your determination to get things done.  Make it known that you are not a quitter and that you always finish the tasks you start.
  14. Courteous Manners – People typically have a positive reaction toward someone who displays respectful gestures and courteous manners.  It shows off a certain level of kindness and also displays that person’s ability to get along well with others.  When placed in front of a client or business partner, an employer wants to know that their employees are courteous and well mannered.
  15. Genuine Sincerity – Being sincere and honest when answering questions in an interview is always the smart way to go.  The basis for any successful business relationship is trust.  If you start with dishonesty, you will eventually fail.  One way to show a hint of sincerity during a short interview is to thoughtfully express to an interviewer that you are willing to trust their corporation with governing an influence over your general career path.  Put yourself out there a little and extend an open hand.


  1. eyeflare says

    This is absolutely true. If anyone walked into an interview I was holding and had all of these attributes, I’d hire them on the spot!

  2. RFulks says

    The only way you can tell employers about all your great soft skills is if they let you interview, and sadly it seems that most employers will still only let people with experience in the door.

  3. says

    @RFulks: While your point does hold water to a certain extent, many people get so discouraged when they see experience qualification requirements that they never even apply.

    If you don’t apply, someone else will.

  4. says

    Very encouraging post. Often times I’m a bit turned off by all of the random job requirements companies ask for. I may know a good bit of them but certainly not everything. One thing I might add to your list is to emphasis you’re a quick learner in order to downplay that you don’t meet every requirement.

  5. says

    @Matt: Thanks for the addition. You are absolutely correct. In my mind this ties in with determination, but I certainly see good reason to stress one’s ability to catch on quickly.

  6. Sunny Bala says

    I have 35 years of job experience, but for the last twelve years I do not have current progressive experience. I was rejected for the few job, because I lack current progressive experience. My prior supervisory experience was not counted. Is it discrimination between old and current experience. I feel experience is experience. What is your view on total experience and current/progressive experience? Thanks.

  7. Marlene Marshall says

    Connection, connection. It’s all about networking with the right people.

    Best connection site I’ve found is LinkedIn.com

  8. Momo says

    My problem is, I see a job and think, ‘Yup, I can do that!’ I read the person specification and my heart drops. I’m trying to break into the charity sector by applying for entry level jobs. However, these jobs require far more experience than say an entry level sales job. Admitting you don’t have the experience, but have XYZ skills is not the answer.

    If you don’t meet the criteria, then the idea is you aren’t qualified for this kind of role and should do a volunteer role until you are.

  9. Ervana says

    i have read these 15 key qualities and i just hope i can incorporate these qualities when i have my upcoming interview. thanks a lot!

  10. thebruins says

    most of these soft skills are rather subjective to gauge, especially in just a 30 minute to one hour interview. people are usually on their best behaviors during interviews, so it doesn’t mean that they’ll sustain such behavior throughout their time as an employee. it also depends on the eye of the beholder; one employer may see someone as having certain good qualities, but another one may not see it. it also goes both ways; many times, the employers themselves fail to show these qualities listed, and that turns off candidates and makes them less enthusiastic about working for them.

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