What to Do When You Are Under-Qualified For a Job

by Vault Careers | August 02, 2011


The job search is a daunting process and it gets even more stressful when you feel your qualifications do not match the jobs you want.  But there are many ways to get around this problem.  Don’t let the job you want slip through your fingers.  Here are ways you can deal with the under-qualified label:

Underdogs win, too
Don’t Give Up Hope.
  The required qualifications portion of a job posting is more like a wish list from the employer and should in no way deter someone from applying for the position.  If you are a few years shy of the required experience, but feel you can do the job, apply.  The worst they can say is no.  You already had a no by not applying at all. 

Pay Attention to Details.  If you applied for the job, despite not meeting their criteria, take more time when crafting your resume and cover letter.  You need to work that much harder to sell yourself properly to a potential employer if you feel you are under qualified for a position.  Let them know why they should still take a chance on you. 

Show Your Interest in the Company.  So many people are applying for jobs, but many are doing so without researching the companies they are applying for positions within.  In an interview, you can guarantee that they will ask you about your knowledge of the company.  Set yourself apart from others by demonstrating that you took the time to learn about the company and explain how you would be the right fit for their team.  It shows that much more how interested you are in the position.

Sell Yourself.  Only you know how hard you worked at your previous jobs.  Make sure you touch on these traits in an interview.  Whether you worked later hours, took on other responsibilities within the company – make sure you highlight the positive traits from previous jobs.  Work ethic is important.  A company is more willing to take a risk on someone who has shown evidence that they can learn quickly and go above and beyond to meet the demands of their employers.  Companies also like someone they can mold into a model employee.  If you show examples of being that type of person, they might hire someone with your raw talent. 

Dig Deep.  Experience is not necessarily what you picked up from previous employment.  Highlight your schooling and your unpaid experience, whether it is from internships or volunteer work.  You may not realize that you do, in fact, have the experience they are looking for.  You just need to dig a little deeper to find it. 

Get More Experience.  Maybe you don’t fit right now.  You might have to give up that job in the immediate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get that job or one like it in the future.  Internships and training courses can help increase your experience level.  You can also apply for a job more suited to your experience.  If you get hired, go into the new job with a mission.  Soak up as much as you can and do your best to learn the skills that will take you to the next level. 

Work For Free.  Offer to work on an unpaid trial basis that is within your realm of possibility.  If you don’t have a job now and can go another three months without one, then this might be in the realm of possibility.  Don’t give up on your job search, just in case this trial plan doesn’t end up working in your favor, but make the most of any possibility that allows you to show off your strengths and become just the right person they were looking to fill the position. 

--Jon Minners, Vault.com

Filed Under: Job Search


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