Not Qualified for Your Dream Job? Why You Should Apply Anyway

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Whether you are a recent college graduate or simply looking to find a new job, no one really enjoys the job search. Even when the opportunity pops up to apply to your dream job, there’s still some reluctance. The truth is, no one wants to face the question, “What am I actually qualified for?”

If you’re like most job seekers, you skim the bulleted list of qualifications, including the skills you need to perform the role, the personality the hiring team is looking for, and how experienced they expect a top contender to be. These lists are daunting and likely deter you from applying for jobs you think you are underqualified for.

I’m here to tell you times have changed and so should how you look at job qualifications. While unemployment is no longer at the pre-COVID low, job seekers can still take a shot at a job that may seem out of reach.

Here are three reasons to apply for that dream job, even when you’re not fully qualified:

1. You never know what might bounce back

Entering 2020, hiring professionals were concerned about the talent shortage. While there are certainly more applicants now as a result of the pandemic, several industries still say that their talent deficit isn’t resolved. This Forbes article, for example, explains that manufacturing is still struggling because there are still too many barriers in the way. 

The continued talent shortage points to a concerning instability that prevents individuals from completing job training programs and learning workplace skills. But it can mean good news for you if you have the ability to overcome those barriers and open yourself to learning. 

The key to landing a job you’re not fully qualified for in today’s market is showing that you’re trainable. A 2018 CareerBuilder survey revealed 66% of hiring pros say they are transitioning to training candidates on the skills they want them to have. And another 44% of companies plan to train low-skill workers and hire them for high-skill jobs in hopes to keep them long term.

To show a hiring professional that you are trainable and eager to learn, read up on the company and identify gaps you know you have in skills. Develop your own training plan to present in the interview stage. While this plan may not be how they prefer to onboard you, you will have shown initiative and determination to succeed in the role.

2. Companies are looking to capture new talent early

Hiring representatives know it’s never an option to keep waiting for a perfect applicant to come to them. While there is stiff competition for you in the job market right now, hiring pros do understand the benefit of capturing new talent early while passion and motivation are high. 

Most job posts include how many years of experience an applicant is required to have. For example, a job post for even an entry-level marketing position might say, “Must have 3-5 years working in marketing or communications.” 

This immediately disqualifies college graduates just entering the workforce or those suddenly changing careers. However, many recruiters have shifted away from time spent in the industry to transferable and relevant experience in an attempt to land fresh new talent for the long-haul.

In fact, hiring professionals and recruiters aren’t shy about turning their attention to universities. According to the 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 64% of companies said they were looking to hire recent college graduates. 

Whether you are looking forward to graduating, just found yourself in the job market, or are trying to advance your career with a big change, connect with your alumni network for job referrals and leads. Leave no stone unturned when turning up experience.

Also, show off your relevant experience by including integral information on your resume and LinkedIn profile, such as internships, writing samples, volunteering, or other work experience.

3. You still possess meaningful skills

There are common skills that some companies put more stock into than others, such as word processing and experience with spreadsheets. In fact, a 2017 Burning Glass Report revealed 82% of middle-skill jobs require those qualifications. 

Yet many employers are looking for very specific skills such as experience with a particular software. In some instances, you may have the years of experience necessary but find you’re missing several hard skills or certifications from the list of job requirements. This should not dissuade you from exploring the opportunity. There may be another role you could start at in the company.

One thing you may not consider is how many valuable soft skills you have. Soft skills are personal attributes that help you work more effectively and make you more attractive as an employee. According to a Talent LMS survey from June 2020, the top three soft skills that managers say their employees are lacking right now are communication and collaboration (57%), leadership (54%), and proactive thinking (50%). 

Other highly, sought-after soft skills include:

  • Customer service
  • The ability to take direction
  • Adaptivity

These skills are more difficult to train than hard skills, so candidates that possess these traits become invaluable to a company.

Be sure to show off your soft skills through the content you share online and in the interview stage for your dream job. Any skills you possess that will save employers time and money when you join their team will set you ahead of the competition when applying for a dream job you’re not quite qualified for. Focus on what does qualify you and you’ll make it impossible for them to see otherwise.

Have you ever applied for a job you weren’t qualified for? Tell us about it!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.