If you’re like most people, there was a time when you were underqualified for a job. This is typically the case when you apply for your first job or when you make a big career change midstream.
At some point, you didn’t meet all of the requirements of a job description you were really interested in. Did that stop you from applying? Many job seekers avoid applying when they don’t meet all the requirements. It seems pointless and a path straight to rejection.
This reminds me of a job I took right after college. I didn’t realize it, but a MBA was required. It wasn’t even optional – it was a must-have. Of course, I didn’t have a MBA back then.
I competed against two much older MBAs. We were all there together, so the process was both intimidating and grueling. In the end, I was surprised to know I was the one who got an offer. It turns out I had performed better in the interviews, and I suspect I was cheaper.
Remember – when your future boss writes a job description, they often provide a laundry list of things they’d like to have. In fact, they may even use a template to write the description that has extra requirements tucked in. It’s like a wish list. Your future boss doesn’t expect to find someone who matches every single requirement. If they did, the person would most likely be overqualified.
So, where does this leave you? Clearly you don’t want to waste time applying for jobs you can’t actually do. But, there’s a difference between not meeting all of the requirements of the job description and being able to do the job.
Read the job description carefully. Ask yourself honestly, “Do I think I can do this job successfully?” If your answer is yes, apply right away. If the answer is maybe, evaluate how much of the job you can do. If you believe you can successfully complete 80 percent or more of the requests in the job posting, you should also consider applying.
The online application process may not be of much help however. Applicant tracking systems filter out applicants who don’t appear to be a fit on paper. To overcome this, look for opportunities to connect offline. Search out your future boss on LinkedIn, or find your future colleagues at networking events.
If it appears that your lack of experience is too much for your future boss, explore opportunities to grow your skills. Search for classes you can take. Look for smaller businesses that might give you a shot. Or, look for another hiring manager that’s more flexible in their requirements.
At the end of the day, you don’t know you won’t be selected for a job unless you take the risk and apply. It’s much better for a future employer to tell you no than for you to automatically eliminate yourself from consideration.