Underqualified for the Job You Really Want?

You’ve found the perfect job posted and are excited to apply.  As you reread the job description, you realize that you don’t meet all the qualifications posted for the position.  Instead of immediately admitting defeat, take a more proactive approach.

The Job Description is a wish list.  Employers provide a detailed listing of what they are seeking in the “ideal” candidate.  Would it be great and make their life easier if they found someone who had already used their specific software system, worked in their industry and knew the needs of their customers?  Of course, but it is also possible to be very successful in the role without any of those things.  Particularly early in your career, the ability to learn new things is a huge asset and can overcome many objections.  Have examples prepared of how you learned a new software system, new industry, etc. to demonstrate your ability to adapt quickly to become a productive member of the team.  Don’t apologize for what you don’t have but ensure that you present your knowledge and experience positively.

This is not the time to just submit your resume online.  If all they are looking at is your resume, you may well not make it to the pile they will invite for interviews.  Increase your likelihood of success in two ways.  Submit a well-written customized cover latter that focuses on your transferable skills and your strong interest in the opportunity.  Also, network within the company to learn more and to identify an internal supporter who can pass your resume to the hiring manager with a recommendation.  Use very opportunity to stand out from the crowd of candidates.  Do not mention skills you are lacking, focus on the positives you bring to the job.

Don’t forget to emphasize relevant experience that may have come from a volunteer experience or even a position you held while in school.  All experience has value and it also demonstrates that you are a well-rounded candidate.  Often skills developed off the job can be key in landing that next opportunity.  Consider what it is about you that is unique from other candidates and focus on how that adds value for the company.

If this truly is the “perfect job for you,” go for it but be sure to put your best foot forward to increase your likelihood of success.


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