During your job search, have you seen jobs you know you’d love but you don’t quite have the requirements it lists in the job posting?
On one hand, you might be reluctant to apply to these jobs. On the other hand, you’ve probably heard of people getting jobs they weren’t completely qualified for when they applied.
The fact is, more employers than ever are willing to look at applicants who don’t check every box on the requirement list. Thanks to the tight labor market, you should absolutely apply to jobs that you aren’t a perfect fit for on paper. Read more below to decide whether you should apply for that job that seems a little out of reach.
Should You Apply?
If there is a massive gap between your qualifications and those listed on the job description, you may want to save your time and energy for another opportunity. The automated software that most companies use to screen resumes would quickly weed any resume that doesn’t meet a significant number of criteria, and your bad-match resume would likely never see by human eyes.
On the other hand, if you meet around 80 percent of the qualifications or more, particularly the essential ones – go ahead and toss your hat in the ring. This is good advice for recent graduates who aren’t expected to have a long list of credentials and who offer the upside of not being set in their ways.
It also can’t hurt to contact the employer and ask if underqualified applicants with a comparable mix of education and experience will also be considered for the position.
How to Apply
Typically, underqualified candidates are short on skills, years of experience or official credentials – like a degree.
Those who are short on skills, but have a degree or years experience should focus on the qualifications they do have, and mention a desire to learn on the job. While you may feel the urge to address not having one or two desired skills, doing so would take valuable space away from your most compelling qualities. You should, however, be prepared to address your shortcomings in the interview by talking about how your plan to gain the skills in question, possibly by enrolling in classes or taking certification courses.
If you’re a bit short on experience, use your cover letter to clearly express that you’ve got the skills, know-how, business sense and maturity of someone with the desired level of experience. Reinforce this point in the interview by coming prepare to talk about your skills and knowledge.
If you don’t have a non-essential degree or certification listed in the job description, be able to speak knowledgably about the industry or position itself.
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