How To Get Hired for a Job You’re Not Quite Qualified For
It's a waste of time applying for a position for which you don’t meet all the qualifications, right? Wrong.
There are plenty of reasons why you should still apply for your dream job, if you really want it, even when you don’t have that MBA or five plus years of experience.
Why? Because it’s not about whether you’re picture-perfect for the job, it’s about whether you have the ability to solve the company’s problems — and if you have the talent, connections, and confidence, then you should definitely apply.
Not sure how you should go about it and go after these roles? Here are 14 ways you should apply for that job, even though you’re technically not qualified for it.
Focus on Your Strengths
Instead of telling your interviewer about the skills you lack, force them to see the talents you do possess by focusing their attention to your strengths.
While some of your strengths might not exactly align with what they’re looking for, you can twist them to be viewed as something unique that only you have.
By redirecting their attention to what you can bring to the role, the interviewer will be more inclined to hire you on.
Highlight Your Accomplishments
Most of the time, the interviewer wants to know what you’ve accomplished in your previous positions instead of just the hearing about what was expected of you.
When you can clearly articulate on paper and in person how you’ve helped grow your previous employer’s revenue, memberships, etc. and how that could translate into this new role, the interviewer will take note of your hard work ethic and view you as a potential asset that could fit in this role
Write a Standout Cover Letter
When you believe that your résumé is lacking the qualifications you need to apply for a job, show how passionate and determined you are to be a part of their company and this role by writing a killer cover letter.
Cover letters are a perfect way to show off your personality and to fill in the gaps of where your résumé lacks so you can provide the answers to the interviewer before they question your expertise.
Before you begin writing your letter, figure out exactly the kind of story you want to tell. Begin by talking about what you know about the company, what unique qualities you can bring to this role, and how your previous unrelated role can translate to this job you may not be 100 percent qualified for.
Don’t be afraid to show how much you want this job. The more they know about your passions and skills, the better.
Explain How Your Past Experiences Translate
Just because your previous roles might not exactly align with the job you’re currently applying for doesn’t mean that you don’t have what it takes to kick butt in this role.
Actually, you might be even more valuable because you could bring a different perspective to this role. While you don’t want to lie about your past experiences, you do want to connect the dots between the qualifications they’re looking for and the soft skills you have to offer for the hiring manager.
Don’t overthink it, any correlation you make will help the interviewer visual you more in the role.
Mention Your Additive Skills
Interviewing for a new job can be twice as intimidating when you don’t hit all the qualifications mentioned in the job ad.
However, if the company asked you to come in for an interview, they must’ve believed that you have potential and could offer something unique to this position. It’s your job to show them exactly what that is during your interview by telling them about your additive skills.
Additive skills are something unique that you can bring to this position you’re currently applying for that will set you apart from the veterans that are also applying.
For instance, do you have certain contacts that you have professional relationships with that could provide benefits to future projects? Or, do you have an out-of-the-box skill that could help cut time in half when producing content?
These additive skills could show the hiring manager that you’re less of a liability and more of an asset, and deserve to be viewed as an equal alongside other candidates.
Be Aware of the Company and the Industry
A hiring manager will be more inclined to hire someone who’s less qualified when the candidate seems very passionate about the company and the industry even though they might not have a lot of experience.
So to make yourself stand out, articulate in your cover letter the company's most recent accomplishments, what's been going on in the industry and how you can use that to your advantage.
Your passion is the driving force behind what you choose to offer. Think outside of the box to make yourself stand out.
Go Above and Beyond
When you’re slightly under-qualified for a job you’re applying for, you need to go above and beyond of what they’re asking to get noticed. In addition to telling them how much you want the job, you need to show them, too.
Come into the interview with a slide deck of how you can improve their social media engagement or a plan of what you would do in the first three months in your role.
Offering them documents like these will allow them to visualize you in the role and get a taste of what it’s like to work with you.
Another great way you can set yourself up for success while you apply for jobs that you’re not quite qualified for is by connecting with people who currently work for the company you want to work for to see if you can get any insight to their current issues, game plans, etc.
Connect with someone that you’ll probably work with if you got the role. You can search through LinkedIn or if you happen to know someone’s contact information, send them a cold email to see if they would have a few moments for an informational interview.
This is your time to ask all the questions you want in addition to letting them know how passionate you are about the company and how much you want to work with them.
While they might not have the authority to give you a job, they could potentially lead you in the right direction to get your foot in the door of the industry and company.
Remove the Jargon From Your Previous Roles
Even though you might think your previous career life was very impressive, none of that matters if you’re thinking of switching industries, especially if you use jargon on your résumé the hiring manager won’t understand.
To refrain from having your résumé thrown in the trash and never looked at again, leave out your previous career’s jargon and keep things simple.
If you want to better your chances of getting a call, reference the job ad you’re applying for to transfer your old skills to this new position.
Get an Amazing Referral
When your skill set is lacking, a raving referral could save the day. Nowadays, most people get hired through someone they know, and if you’re coming from a different industry, a referral can outweigh the skills you might not have.
But if you don’t already know someone who works at your dream job, opt to network by going to events, connecting with someone through LinkedIn, or having a friend introduce you if they happen to have a connection.
While it might be awkward to step out of your comfort zone to meet and talk with a random stranger, doing this can improve your chances of getting a role at a company you’re dying to work for.
Do a Pre-Interview Project
When you don’t have the skills to get your foot in the door, you may have to prove to the hiring manager that you have what it takes to be hired for this position. This means putting a little more elbow grease in your application.
While regular Joes with the right skill set can apply with just a résumé and cover letter, you, on the other hand, should do a pre-interview project. A pre-interview project is basically an assignment you’d give yourself that you think you would be doing in this role to prove to the hiring manager that you have the skills to do the job.
Yes, it will take a little bit more time, but the hiring manager will be impress that not only did you come prepared but that you had enough stamina to prove to them how much you want this job.
Put Emphasis on Your Motivation
Not having the right set of skills shouldn’t stop you from applying to your dream job when you have enough drive to prove that you have what it takes.
People love working with others who are passionate about what they do. They definitely don’t want to work with someone who is incompetent and complains all the time. Express to them how eager you are to learn and the necessary steps you’re already taking to get to know more.
Prove to them how quickly you learn new things based off your previous experience. When they see that you’ve already done this in the past, they’ll trust that you’ll do it again.
While it might be tempting to fib a little on your résumé, cover letter, and in your interview, you want to go down the honest route to get ahead of the game.
Hiring managers can usually tell when you actually have no idea what you’re talking about — unless you’re an amazing actor, then, you’re just in the wrong industry.
Instead of stretching the truth, put emphasis on all the other things we’ve previously already mentioned: your motivation, your additive skills, or your knowledge about the company.
When you bring passion, go above and beyond, and prove that you can do the job, the hiring manager will take notice.
No matter what the circumstances end up being, it’s important to try to stay positive throughout the whole job-search process. Not having the right skills for a job you’re applying for can mean that you might not get it.
Don’t let that deter you from going after your dream job, though. It’s important to have a positive outlook while you go through this.
Try to learn the skills you want to grow while you apply for jobs and don’t give up. Sooner or later someone will believe in what you have to offer, and you’ll eventually get the job you know you were always meant to have.