After wasting hours of your life sifting through job listings that sound about as exciting as eating a cardboard box, you’ve finally found it — the job of your dreams! It’s so perfect, you’ve already started planning how you’re going to accept the job offer when it lands at your feet.
But wait! The company wants to hire someone with five years of experience, and you only have two. Plus, you can’t say that you meet every single requirement. Well, at least not without lying on your resume. Is it even worth applying to?
Here’s the deal:
You don’t need to have every single requirement in order to be considered for the job. On the other hand, you should only apply if you feel that you have what it takes to get the job done, and that the job wouldn’t be completely out of your league.
So, how do you get an employer’s attention when you’re underqualified for the job? Follow these five steps to show employers that you have what it takes to do the job — even if you don’t meet every requirement.
Think of the qualifications as a wish list, rather than set-in-stone requirements. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings, direct your attention to what you can walk into the office and deliver on day one, and how your former work or volunteer experience could apply to the requirements.
Even if you don’t have the exact number of years of experience the company is looking for, emphasize your skills and your ability to perform the job. Think about skills you’ve gained from other jobs, internships, and volunteer positions and show how they’ve helped you complete projects. If you have specific achievements or awards you’ve gained in these positions, highlight them in your resume.
When you’re writing your resume, make sure you put those keywords to use! When you’re customizing your resume for the job, reflect all of the biggest keywords that actually apply to your qualifications, without embellishing. Fluffing up your skills might seem like the easy way to get an interview, but it won’t get you much further than that.
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 to the employer.
Make sure to emphasize the skills that you do have, and mention other strengths that could help you succeed in the position in a unique and positive way. Taking the time to personalize every cover letter you submit could make all the difference in getting picked for a job — or not.
Just because you’re not an expert at a skill a company is looking for doesn’t mean you’re going to be rejected immediately. Showing that you’re proactive is a great way to let employers know that you’re taking the job opportunity seriously, and that you’re willing to learn new skills.
If there’s a qualification or skill set listed in the requirements that you’re not familiar with, search for tutorials online just to get your feet wet and learn the basics. You’ll have somewhat of an understanding of how these things work and you’ll be able to show employers that you’re taking initiative to have the knowledge required for the job.
In many cases, just showing employers that you’re actively learning a skill needed for the job is enough to make a good impression on them — so get to work!
Getting someone on the inside to vouch for your skills and experience could help land you an interview, even if you’re lacking some of the job requirements. If you have an “in” at a particular company you’re interested in working for, get your connect to endorse you for the position.
If you don’t feel comfortable asking for someone to sing praises of your limited mad skills, just ask for advice on what you can do to stand out in the hiring process, how you can improve your resume, and what you can do to nail your interview. Some inside perspective can go a long way.
Skills can be learned and years of experience come with time — but you either have enthusiasm, or you don’t.
If you’re genuinely excited for a job opportunity, or if you’re passionate about working with a particular company, make sure to convey that in your cover letter and during your interview.
If you can show employers that you’re excited for an opportunity and you’re willing to do what it takes to learn the skills of the job, it could make all difference when the time comes for a hiring manager to make their decision. A little enthusiasm can go a long way, so make sure to show yours.
Finding a job is hard work. It gets even more challenging when employers classify “entry level” as “three years of experience.” Even if you don’t have every single requirement an employer is looking for, that doesn’t mean you should take yourself out of the running just yet.
If you feel that you have what it takes to do the job and you’re excited about working for the company, you should put yourself out there and apply. Besides, you’ll never be considered if you never submit your application.
With that in mind, it’s time to write your resume, customize your cover letter, and get the job of your dreams! We know you have what it takes.