You are qualified to apply for a job that you are underqualified for.

Sheila Waswa | 22nd January 2021

Job Search
You are qualified to apply for a job that you are underqualified for.

You are qualified to apply for a job that you are underqualified for.

Sheila Waswa | 22nd January 2021

Job Search

You are qualified to apply for a job that you are underqualified for.

If you are actively looking for a job, you have probably seen a number of job advertisements that are within your field or industry. You must have also seen ads from your dream company or jobs that you didn’t think you’ll ever be considered for.

Should you waste your time to apply for a job that you are unqualified for? Definitely not.

However, if you are underqualified but you have the specific skill set needed to learn what you don’t already know on the job, coupled with the right attitude and acumen for that job, by all means go ahead. This is because more than ever, employers are looking for potential rather than exact match, which means there are jobs that you may seem “underqualified” but can be considered for.

It is important to note that employers in their job ads often describe the qualities and skill-set of an ideal candidate, who in most instances does not exist. It is therefore paramount that you think of the qualifications as a wish list, rather than set-in-stone requirements.

According to an article by Harvard Business Review, organizations expect people who are new to a role (and particularly people who are new to a firm) to grow into the position. They want new hires to ask a lot of questions, to seek out mentoring, and to even make a few mistakes as they get acclimated to a role.  The article further contends that applying for jobs where you meet all the qualifications is detrimental to your career progression.

“Unfortunately, many people (Particularly women) focus on potential jobs for which they are already overly qualified. There are upsides to doing this: they will “hit the ground running,” which often makes an employer happy and can boost the person’s self-confidence. But it’s unlikely the job will lead to much growth and being stagnant in a role can make it hard to transition to the next position. In particular, an upward trajectory in the workplace requires consistent acquisition of the set of skills needed to take on the next position. Learning these skills when you’re in a position for which you are overqualified will require that you learn “off the clock” rather than incorporating learning into the daily performance of your job.” HBR notes

This means that every position you apply for, should stretch and test your potential rather than those where you tick all the boxes.

How Should You Approach Jobs That You Are Underqualified For Then?

With Courage.

Firstly, your cover letter could be your secret weapon in snagging a job you’re underqualified for. If you don’t meet every single requirement, but you feel confident that you would be a good fit, make sure to clearly show your enthusiasm in your letter t1`o the employer.

While applying through the normal channel might not bore fruits especially if you are underqualified, looking for a window to link with the employer directly could come in handy.

Ideally, this means that you will not apply like every other candidate but through a Pain Letter. A Pain Letter addressing the employer’s ‘pain’ and how you have devised a remedy for it.

When you land an interview or meeting, keep in mind that the burden of prove lies with you.

Therefore, understanding your value and what you have to offer is the first step towards landing your dream job. Top Resume contends that you should have the courage to tell the truth, but do it in a way that is positive while emphasizing on your strengths. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings, direct your attention to what you can walk into the office and deliver on day one.

“For instance, instead of saying “I understand that I don't have any experience in the healthcare industry,” open with “My experience in the professional services industry has taught me.”  Remember: your experience is highly valuable, even if it is not an exact natural match for the job description.

It is also vital that you emphasize on your achievements and previous successes. This sets you off as a high-flyer. These include past awards, consistent achievement and overachievement of performance standards, upward career progression and title advancement, and educational and professional certifications.

Simply put, companies are challenged with finding qualified individuals who meet 100% of the job description, so they’re hiring individuals who meet a portion. So apply for as many jobs that you are underqualified for as possible. You never know!

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