Job Seeker Dilemma: Should You Apply if Not 100% Qualified?

KoalafiedYou’re looking for a new job, and you discover an amazing opportunity. The job looks like a great fit with your career direction and you want to be part of the team.

The one thing holding you back: you don’t think you’re qualified. Your skills, experience, or education don’t exactly align with the job description. Is it worth applying?

The short answer: Maybe.

Check out the following tips to help you decide if it’s worth your time and effort.

How Underqualifed is Underqualified?

Don’t miss out on a great opportunity because you are worried that you’re not a perfect match. Some application requirements are created to filter job seekers who are truly not qualified. By setting these high standards, recruiters can focus on promising candidates, and find the best talent possible.

However, it is also important to be realistic. If the company wants someone who has executive management experience and you are a recent graduate, then you should look for other opportunities.

Convince the Hiring Manager

Focus on what relevant skills and experience you do have in your cover letter. Let the hiring manager know you’re a great candidate, even if you don’t fit their exact requirements. If you can demonstrate past success and prove that you can learn new skills quickly, they might make exceptions for the experience that you lack.

The quality of your previous experience matters. You may have worked for a great company, creatively managed an important project, or learned key skills in school. Tailor your cover letter and resume to the position, and let them know how your background relates to what they are looking for.

If you do apply for a job that seems out of your reach, you will need an outstanding resume and cover letter to ensure that you get an interview.

Use Your Connections

Think about any contacts you may have at the company. A personal introduction always helps. If you don’t have a relationship with a current or past employee think about how you can cultivate one. Can you connect with employees over social media? Are they attending any networking events where you could introduce yourself? You can also cold call (or e-mail) employers to ask for an informational interview.

Think Positively

Be honest about your skills and experience, but don’t sell yourself short. You might have abilities in other areas, and if you are a great candidate it’s possible for the company to adjust the role so that you can maximize your contributions. Additionally, some companies offer mentorship or training opportunities for new employees.

If you do get an interview for a job you’re not qualified for, it will be especially important to be prepared. Learn as much about the company and the industry as you can, and be ready to answer tough questions. If there are certain skills you can improve upon immediately (Excel, Photoshop, etc.), then get started before the interview.

Having a great attitude and being able to quickly adapt to new situations are half the battle. Be realistic, but don’t give up!





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Doostang!



About the Author: Founded in 2005 at Harvard, Stanford and MIT, Doostang was created with one goal in mind: to successfully advance ambitious young professionals in their careers. Doostang offers its members the opportunity to search thousands of high-quality, highly relevant job opportunities, and tools to leverage their inside connection to get hired. Follow Doostang on Twitter!


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