What Are Job Requirements?
Job listings often include a general description of the role's responsibilities, an introduction to the company, what benefits and compensation the company is willing to offer and the job requirements. These requirements describe what qualifications the employer is looking for in ideal candidates. Reviewing the job requirements can help you determine if you are a good fit for the position and select what skills, experience and qualities to highlight in your resume and cover letter.
In this article, we explain what job requirements are, explore some common job requirements you may see in a listing and demonstrate ways you can decide if you meet a job's requirements.
Related: The Essential Job Search Guide
What are job requirements?
Job requirements are the skills, education, experience and traits that an employer expects someone to have to be successful in a job position. Hiring managers include job requirements in the posting to decide which candidates they will contact for an interview. Prospective candidates can use job requirements to determine whether they are qualified for the job. Current employees can use job requirements to understand the scope of their roles and managers and human resources professionals can use them to outline the steps employees need to take to take to change positions or earn promotions.
Common job requirements
Every position has different requirements, depending on the industry, how technical the work is and how competitive the job market is. Here are the most common types of job requirements you may see:
Professional licenses, accreditations and certifications
Personal traits and attributes
Work experience is how much time you have spent in positions similar to the one you are applying for. Employers use this to determine how familiar you are with the role and how much training you have in the position or similar ones. Higher-level positions require more experience than entry-level roles because professionals usually gain more complex responsibilities the longer they work in an industry.
Each position requires different skills to successfully complete the work. These include technical, soft and hard skills. Technical skills include working with computers, such as computer programming, technical writing, data analysis and project management. Soft skills are those that involve working with people, like communication, critical thinking, leadership and problem-solving. Hard skills require job-specific training, such as working with industrial machinery and other technology.
Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Education requirements allow employers to express what kind of formal classroom training would help someone accomplish the job. Most companies list the minimum level of education required for each job listing, such as a high school diploma, an associate, bachelor's or graduate degree. Companies also often list the majors they prefer, such as accounting, engineering, finance or business administration. Other education requirements may include vocational training programs, such as for electricians, plumbers, licensed practical nurses, dental hygienists and others.
Professional licenses, accreditations and certifications
Many jobs require or prefer professional licenses, accreditations or certifications to ensure candidates meet industry standards or can perform specialized tasks on the job. These usually involve gaining work experience, pursuing continuing education and passing an exam. Earning either required or preferred licenses, accreditations and certifications may be applicable for highly technical fields, including architects, computer programmers, nurses, doctors and engineers.
Specific knowledge is the information a candidate needs to know that cannot be included in other categories. Specific knowledge is often highly specialized and is developed through extensive research, practical experience and personal curiosity. For example, a repair shop might specify that they are looking for a mechanic who is an expert on hybrid vehicles. Many job listings include specific knowledge, but it is especially common in highly technical fields like engineering, design and research.
Personal traits and attributes
Personality traits and attributes describe the kind of person who is best suited for the position and the company. Including traits and attributes in a job listing highlight elements of the working environment, corporate culture and team dynamic and help employers find candidates who are likely to get along with team members and management and have personalities that align with the company's values. These qualities may include passion, dedication, teamwork, interest in learning new things, attention to detail and creativity.
Some job postings specify that candidates must be bilingual or have a specific level of proficiency in a language. This requirement is particularly common if the position involves working with an international population.
Most job listings include what physical activities candidates are expected to be able to accomplish with or without accommodations. These can include standing or sitting for long periods of time, bending or twisting and how much you are expected to be able to lift. These are so applicants can determine if they can do the work with reasonable changes to the work environment.
How to tell if you meet the job requirements
When you are reviewing job listings, it is best to ensure you meet the requirements so you can improve your chances of earning an interview. Here is how you can determine if you meet the job requirements:
Make a list of the minimum requirements included in the posting.
Determine the preferred requirements.
Identify the ideal character traits.
Compare the minimum requirements to your qualifications.
Select your most applicable traits.
1. Make a list of the minimum requirements included in the posting
Review the job listing carefully, and identify requirements that use "should" or "must" in their phrasing, which often indicates the employer is requiring them. Create a checklist of keywords that reveal the minimum level of experience, type of experience, training qualifications and education. If applicable to your field, also list the licenses and certificates. If the role is highly technical or physical or works with an international population, be sure to include the special knowledge, physical abilities and languages in your list as well.
2. Determine the preferred requirements
Depending on the structure of the job listing, you may be able to find some qualifications the employer would like to have in a candidate but are not requiring them. Some listings may use "or" when listing preferred requirements such as optional types of experience and education. Others may directly say that a qualification is "preferred but not required." Add these keywords to the second level of your list, being sure to label them as "preferred."
3. Identify the ideal character traits
Though an employee's personality is very important, consider placing these elements in the third level of your qualifications checklist. This can help you first focus on the job-specific requirements when creating your resume and cover letter. As you review the job listing again, look for phrases like "The ideal candidate is/has..." to find these traits. Some listings may also write that their company is "looking for a candidate with..." and mention a few qualities.
4. Compare the minimum requirements to your qualifications
Mark which requirements on the list you meet. Sometimes, educational requirements can be replaced with significant experience in the field because you would have learned the information while you worked, but education commensurate with experience is typically listed in the job description if that is the case. You are likely qualified for the position if you meet most of the requirements, especially if you have the education, experience and special knowledge.
For the few requirements you do not meet, consider if you have any additional qualifications that are similar or that match the preferred requirements. Highlighting those on your resume and in your cover letter may help the hiring manager more easily determine how closely you match the overall qualifications.
5. Select your most applicable traits
After determining how likely you are to be able to complete the core responsibilities, be sure to also compare the type of personality they're looking for to your own. Review your resume summary or objective to identify what traits you typically highlight and consider revising that element to address some character trait keywords on your checklist. This step can help the hiring manager quickly understand how your personality can fit in at their company.
Job requirements template
Job requirements are usually written as a list on job postings and in their own section. They are usually presented as a bullet list with descriptions that are short and easy to read. Many companies will divide their requirements into two sections to show that a candidate must have to be considered and the preferred skills or traits to be successful.
Here is a template for how job requirements can be listed in a job posting:
Education level and preferred majors
Special skills and knowledge
Amount of work experience
Necessary traits and attributes
Physical ability to accomplish the work
Further specialized knowledge
Additional education or certifications
Personality traits that will be useful, but are not required
Job requirements examples
Here are examples of job requirements for three different positions:
Customer service representative
High school diploma or equivalent
Two years of experience in customer service
Able to think critically and solve problems efficiently
Excellent verbal and written communication skills
Able to sit at a computer for long periods of time
Previous experience in technical support
Experience with data entry and escalations
Bachelor's degree, preferably in finance, business administration or accounting
Two years of experience with accounting software
Proficient with spreadsheets, word processing and databases
The ideal candidate is detail-oriented, organized and able to multitask
Able to sit for long periods of time
Previous experience in administrative support
Familiarity with the construction industry
At least two years of general maintenance experience
Able to maintain plumbing, HVAC, irrigation and electrical systems
Able to stand for long periods of time and lift up to 50 lbs. unassisted
Must be detail-oriented and able to prioritize tasks
One year of experience in apartment or condominium maintenance
Trade school graduate
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