3 Things You're Overthinking When You Read Job Listings (and 3 Things You're Not Thinking About Enough)

Applying for jobs is stressful. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would respond to that fact with, “What do you mean? I think it’s a totally enjoyable process and I can’t wait to do it again soon!”

But as harrowing of an experience as it can be, there are a few surprisingly insignificant factors that you’re agonizing over whenever you read a job listing. And as a result, you’re so caught up on those things that you’re missing important details that potential employers are looking for you to catch.

For example:

1. You’re Overthinking Your Deadline to Submit

It’s really exciting to find an opening that makes you want to apply ASAP. But on the flipside, it’s not hard to figure out that if you’re so pumped about it, there are probably lots of other people who want it, too. So, the obvious conclusion is to submit your materials immediately, right? Well, not quite.

Read the listing again and take note of everything the employer asks for. Then, think about how long all of those materials typically take you to customize. If you’ve found it at the beginning of a day, and think you can dedicate the amount of time required to submit it later that afternoon, give it a shot.

But if you think you’ll need a full 24 to 48 hours to get your act together, that’s perfectly fine. Your application will stand out much more for being tailored for the role than it will be for getting there within minutes of the listing going live.

You’re Not Giving the Application Your Complete Attention

Before I was a full-time writer, I really wanted to be a full-time writer. And every time I applied for a job, I crossed my fingers in hopes that the employer would be the first to give me a shot. But I soon realized I wasn’t putting myself in a good position to hear back because I wasn’t following all the instructions.

So, before you rush to apply, read the listing three times and write down exactly what’s required—from a resume (tailored, obviously), to a cover letter (template to make that easy here), to a portfolio, to social media links, to responses to additional questions.

No matter what the case may be, it’s worth double-checking this list before you submit.

2. You’re Overthinking Whether or Not You Should Apply

How often have you come across an amazing opportunity and thought that you’d like to apply, but then decided you were under-qualified? After all, being told “no thanks” is never fun. But here’s the thing—a “no” is much better than thinking, “Hm, I wonder if I would’ve had a chance at that.”

If you’re not an exact match, take a second look at the key requirements. If you think you meet the core competencies, don’t be afraid to throw your hat in the ring.

You’re Not Thinking Enough About the Required Skills

While you shouldn’t be afraid to apply for positions that might be a bit of a stretch, you also shouldn’t blindly assume that you’re awesome enough to make up for the fact you can’t do the job. (Yes, you might be a fast learner, but sometimes that’s truly not enough—especially in a role that requires you to hit the ground running.)

If you decide you’re more unqualified than under-qualified (this article can help you figure that out) and it’s a job you really want, do some research to figure out how to get those necessary skills. Hint: Do some informational interviews and ask that very question.