It has finally happened! You’ve opened up your latest batch of job alerts, and your dream job is staring right back at you– but there’s a catch. It calls for more experience or qualifications than you currently have and you can’t help but feel unqualified.
Before you let that disappointment sink in, don’t give up just yet, because you have two choices.
Option One: Forget about it and continue working at a lower-level job that is uninspiring, pays less and tedious.
Or, there’s Option Two: Take a deep breath and give it your best shot; after all, what have you got to lose?
Those in favour of option two, read on because the following tips are all to help you out for when you apply for a job you’re not qualified for.
Table of Contents
1. Don’t Let ‘Must-Haves’ Scare You
It’s common for hiring managers to get more than a little carried away when listing the requirements for a job, which often results in a lengthy list of demands that are barely even possible for a candidate to have. But it’s important not to let this scare you off, because when you don’t qualify for a job, but you apply anyway, what’s there to lose?
You’ll never know until you try and who knows? With a little work and a good cover letter; that job may just end up being yours.
While some qualifications will always be essential (i.e. those directly related to the core responsibilities of the job), for the most part; job requirements are best viewed as more of a wish-list rather than non-negotiable elements.
As a general rule, if you have at least 75% of the requirements covered and are confident that you have the ability to do the job well – apply! Just be sure to use your cover letter to explain how the skills, knowledge, and experience you have more than makeup for any missing elements.
2. Know the Role – Backwards!
If you are applying for a job with less experience than required or are a qualification or two light, your chances will likely rest on your ability to explain what makes you such a great fit for the role. This means knowing all there is to know about it.
Start by carefully examining the exact wording of the job posting and then spend some time learning about the finer details of the position by reading industry blogs, listening to podcasts, and researching on sites such as Myfuture or Job Outlook.
Another great way to learn about the day-to-day challenges that a role entails is by reaching out to current professionals via social networking sites; after all, LinkedIn alone has over 433 million members, many of whom will be more than happy to offer some friendly tips and advice.
Understanding more about the position is also a great way to know how to write a cover letter for a job you are not qualified for, as you can use your knowledge about the tasks and responsibilities expected to show your enthusiasm for the job and notify the recruiter that you’ve done your research.
3. Focus on Your Skills
Applying for a job with less experience than required may sound daunting, but you’d be surprised just how many skills and capabilities you can draw from the experiences you’ve gained over your school or work life.
As impressive as fancy qualifications may look on a resume you can certainly land your dream job without them. The trick is to showcase the skills and talents that you’ll bring to the role and explain what makes them so valuable.
Start by restructuring your resume to highlight your skills (rather than your experience or qualifications) and use clear examples of your achievements wherever possible, ideally backed by relevant statistics.
Don’t forget to mention a few of your softer skills as well, such as your teamwork talents, problem-solving prowess, or next-level networking abilities, as these extra strengths will often be the difference between getting a job and not.
For those without much paid experience under their belt, keep in mind that all those skills you’ve acquired while volunteering, travelling, working on school projects, and even playing competitive sports can count as well. This is a great alternative if you feel that you can’t get qualified in enough time, especially if you need to apply for a job straight away before it gets snapped up.
4. Fill in Some Gaps
While it is certainly not the end of the world to have a few gaps in your resume, the fewer there are the better, so do your best to fill in as many as you can ahead of time.
If you can identify your blind spots, then yu can work out how to address them.
These can be anything form not having competence in a particular program, or simply from lacking updating skills in a certain area. The good thing to remember is that getting acquainted with an unfamiliar program can be as easy as downloading a free trial, or, you can find short courses that can take as little as a few hours to complete and are a welcomed addition to any resume in the eyes of recuriters.
If the volunteering portion of your CV could use a boost, you are sure to find plenty of opportunities nearby.
If you’re in the process of upgrading your skills and experience but aren’t quite done yet, mention it anyway because whether you’re enrolled in basic admin courses or IT training, these are still guaranteed to be viewed in a positive light. It’s important to remember that if you need to get qualified for your dream position, there’s always options available to you.
5. Network like Crazy
According to LinkedIn, a staggering 85% of all jobs are filled by referrals; so, if you’re serious about landing your dream job it’s time to activate your network.
Let friends, family, neighbours and even your local barista know that you are chasing your dream role and check in with former classmates and colleagues as well; after all, you never know who might have a well-placed connection.
Better yet, if there’s an industry trade show, seminar or networking event coming up, be there, and be sure to come armed with a friendly smile, a well-rehearsed elevator speech and plenty of your business cards.
If you’re lucky enough to find an insider willing to vouch for you, great! If not, focus your efforts on gathering information about the role, the company, the industry or even just the application process itself. Keep in mind that if all goes well, you will also need a handful of quality references ready and willing to sing your praises and the sooner you have them lined up, the better.
6. Prove it with a Project
A great way to show that you’re the right man or woman for the job is by offering a taste of your talents ahead of time, because not only is this a fantastic way to showcase your skills in action but it will make it clear that you understand what the role is all about
While the right project will depend upon the position you are applying for, it could consist of anything from simply identifying core challenges and highlighting possible solutions through to conducting your own experiments or even creating entirely new products.
Whatever you do, just make sure that your project will be relevant to the role you are applying for and be careful not to be too harsh in criticising the way that business operations are currently being handled.
If you find yourself asking ‘Should I apply for a job I’m not qualified for?’, then just remember that even though applying for a job you don’t feel qualified for can be scary and often nerve-wracking; if you’re ever going to take a risk on a job, there’s no time like the present and who knows? You just might get it.
So, don’t just sit there, your dream job is waiting!