The Secret to Applying for Jobs When You May Be Under-Qualified

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You’ve probably come across job openings that sound interesting, but you notice that you’re lacking some of the desired qualifications. Is it okay to apply anyway? In most cases, it’s worth taking a chance. Of course, there are some exceptions, like when you have to be an attorney or know how to play the violin. Otherwise, it’s usually a matter of seeing if you can reframe your background to address the employer’s needs. In fact, many employment advertisements are more like wish lists than precise formulas, so there is substantial room for flexibility.

Take a look at three of the most common situations where you may be able to make the case for why you’re a candidate worth considering.

When You’re Changing Careers

Do you want to switch to a new industry or a different kind of position? Many adults have made a successful transition at various stages in their professional lives. A career change could help you discover a job you’ll love. These strategies will help you make the switch:

  1. Research the field. Before making such a big move, do your research carefully. Clarify your reasons for the switch, so you can explain them to a potential employer.
  2. Interview colleagues. Professionals already working in the field are an important source. Attend networking events where you can make new contacts. Join groups on LinkedIn and reach out to someone whose profile looks interesting.
  3. Focus on transferable skills. Review your resume to see how you can apply what you’ve done to your new area of interest. Many tasks are similar even when the job title changes.
  4. Ask for referrals. Your current network is still an asset. See if there is someone you know who can introduce you to others who may be willing to share advice and job leads.

When You are Missing Specific Skills

Soft skills can be just as important as your major or computer knowledge. With a few extra steps, you may be able to prove that you can do the job even if you’re unfamiliar with a program that could be outdated by next year anyway.

  1. Study the job description. Review the qualifications to see which requirements are essential and which are less significant. While an international company might like each employee to be multilingual, it may not be a significant part of the position you’re seeking.
  2. Pick out keywords. Automatic programs (ATS) and human resources departments focus heavily on keywords these days. If a particular skill is stressed repeatedly, you may need to look elsewhere. Use an online tool like LinkedIn to help you identify the gaps in the required skills.
  3. Continue learning. On the other hand, you can keep strengthening your qualifications. Take advantage of online training programs to get key certifications or learn a new skill that is required in your new desired position.

If you’ve done your homework and concluded that you’re an excellent fit for the position, ask to be considered. Even if you are missing a few items on the qualification checklist, you’ll feel better knowing that you made an effort. Plus, you may even land your dream job.

about author

Karie Barrett
Karie Barrett

Karie is a results-obsessed marcom, design, and analytics professional with proven success leading corporate marketing, internal communications, and business strategy development for companies across diverse commercial and nonprofit industries.

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