This is the first of a seven-part series on the deadliest mistakes I see people making when changing careers.

The first big mistake I see people make when they want to change their careers is never applying for the job at all!  

Ahem, I’m over here raising my hand on this one.

I can’t tell you how many fabulous job postings I’ve read and ignored because I didn’t have all of the qualifications.

I thought I was alone in this, but then I read a report in the Harvard Business Review by Tara Mohr. She explained that this practice is significantly more prevalent than I ever thought.

According to Mohr’s research,

“People who weren’t applying believed they needed the qualifications not to do the job well, but to be hired in the first place. They thought that the required qualifications were… well, required qualifications.

They didn’t see the hiring process as one where advocacy, relationships, or a creative approach to framing one’s expertise could overcome not having the skills and experiences outlined in the job qualifications.”

When I worked as a hiring manager, I was involved in developing a job description, and that’s when I discovered what no one has ever told us:

Most job descriptions are basically a bunch of baloney.

Here’s the truth: Most job postings are developed by hiring managers who need to write something to post the opening.

They know the basic duties of the job, but they also want to attract the best candidates. So they come up with some bullet points to pad the description that eventually goes out.

Oftentimes in reality, they don’t need someone with all of those prerequisites.

Now, of course, this depends on the position. Generally, the more specialized the job, the less likely the description is to be padded.

But most job descriptions, especially those in the business sector, evolve based on the person who’s actually writing the description.

This is why I tell people to apply for the job even if they don’t think they meet all of the qualifications. Most hiring managers care more about how you will meld with their team than whether or not you meet the requirements.  

It’s not that they don’t care. They certainly don’t want to hire someone who’s completely unqualified, but for them, it’s more important that their new hire is a good fit for the team and the  company culture.

So the next time you see a job you want, but you’re convinced that you’re not a good fit because you don’t meet all of the requirements, think about this:

Consider why you aren't applying. Are you really not qualified? Or are you just not ready to leave the confines of your comfort zone?

Then go out and apply anyway. You just might be surprised that you get the job after all.