Everything has meaning.  That’s not some philosophical statement, I’m talking about the importance of analyzing what is in a job description before submitting your resume for a position.  

Far too often, there is a disappointing “supply” of jobs in your field.  It happens.  You are a litigator and right now all of the open positions are for corporate attorneys.  When you finally see an opening for a litigation position at a top firm, you don’t have the exact experience, but what the heck, you want to get your resume to the firm and let them make the decision.  Besides, how different can employment litigation be from securities litigation anyway?

That’s a big mistake.  Job descriptions are written specifically for the firm’s need – not to attract people who could maybe, kinda-sorta, hopefully do the work.  It’s a great way to be rejected for the position.

What’s worse is that once rejected, you may be labeled in the firm’s applicant tracking system as an attorney that was passed over, which makes it harder to be considered when a position that makes sense for you actually becomes available.

In all our years recruiting at Sand Search, we have not seen candidates be successful trying to wedge their resume into a position that didn’t fit.  If your experience is very close to that described in the position description, then by all means you should apply and explain where you are deficient in experience in the cover letter (also noting how you will quickly get up to speed on those qualifications,) but no amount of explaining in the cover letter will overcome having only 3 years of experience where the firm is looking for someone with 8+ years of experience.  It just doesn’t work.

And employers should pay attention, too.  An artfully drafted position description, with understandable experience criteria is important.  It can help applicants be aware of positions that they are (or are not) qualified for , which will increase the number of QUALIFIED applicants.  This saves everyone time. 

So before you see if a firm might be interested in hiring and environmental lawyer for their IP litigation opening, take another minute and dread the job description.