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When I meet with job seekers, there’s one quality that quickly separates those who are successful in their search from those who flounder. It’s not the college they went to, whether or not they have a MBA, or how smart they are. It’s not if they have a particular certification, or a certain number of years of experience.

Surprisingly, the thing that can make all the difference is confidence in our own abilities. I’m not talking about being completely unrealistic and assuming we can become an accountant with no background in math (for example). What I’m talking about is when you see a requirement on a job description that you know you can do, despite not having done it before at work. Even with no professional experience, it’s in your wheelhouse.

For many people, putting themselves in the running for a job when they don’t meet every single qualification seems like a terrible idea. We assume it’s a waste of time, and we’re certain we’ll be embarrassed when we’re turned down. But, in reality, by not submitting ourselves for a job, we’re saying we’re not good enough – and then company never even saw our resume. They don’t even know our name.

This is an area where youth can beat experience. It’s much more common for a young person to feel comfortable applying for a job they aren’t a perfect fit for. And, it makes sense. They’re just starting out. What do they have to lose?

But, think of this problem from another perspective. When a job is created, a job description must be written. In many cases, the hiring manager enjoys writing a job description as little as you enjoy updating your own resume. The hiring manager may pull it together from old descriptions or random jobs they find on the internet. Ultimately, their list of required skills may or may not really reflect what they have to have. It’s a wish list.

And, consider this – If you were a hiring manager, would you prefer to hire someone who met one hundred percent of your qualifications, but had a bad attitude? Or, would you prefer to hire someone who met eighty percent of your qualifications, and had a great attitude? There are many times that fit outweighs specific qualifications.

Frankly, it’s rare you’ll meet every requirement within a job description. If you do, it’s possible you’re not shooting high enough and the move may be lateral. Perhaps this job won’t be challenging enough for you.

At the end of the day, don’t let a few requirements on a job description slow you down, or make you feel bad about yourself. Focus on the strengths you do bring to the table and go from there. Submit your resume and give the company the opportunity to decide whether or not they would like to work with you. If you don’t, another candidate (who may be much less qualified than you) will.

As J.J. Rowling once said, “Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

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