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. 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. In fact, with unemployment hitting a 10-year low, job seekers are gaining an advantage in the market. There is no better time to take a shot on a job that may seem out of reach.

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

1. Hiring pros are facing a talent shortage

There is a challenging new trend affecting hiring professionals all over the world. The 2018 Talent Shortage Survey by ManpowerGroup revealed 45 percent of companies worldwide are having trouble filling positions. This talent deficit isn’t necessarily due to underqualified applicants but rather a decline in the number of overall applicants. In fact, more than a quarter (26 percent) of employers said they lack an acceptable number of applicants.

The talent shortage has caused employers to loosen their ties and consider candidates that do not meet all the requirements for more and more roles. This benefits not only new, entry-level candidates but also passive candidates who have wanted to change careers but believed they did not have enough transferable skills.

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 percent of hiring pros say they are transitioning to training candidates on the skills they want them to have. And another 44 percent 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

With the lack of talent looming large for companies, hiring representatives cannot keep waiting for a perfect applicant to come to them. So, they have started capturing the potential for new talent early in their careers 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, the focus is now shifting 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 have turned their attention toward universities, specifically. According to the 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 64 percent of companies said they were looking to hire recent college graduates in the past year.

Now, going into 2019, the low unemployment rate continues to drive demand for top talent in a job seekers’ market. Relevant experience, such as internships, writing samples, volunteering or other work experience is integral information to present on a resume and LinkedIn profile.

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 and leave no stone unturned when turning up 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 percent 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 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 Globe Newswire Report, the top three soft skills that employers are looking for are problem-solving (62 percent), adaptability (49 percent), and time management (48 percent).

Other highly, sought-after soft skills include customer service, the ability to take direction, and excellent verbal communication. 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. Any skills you possess that will save employers time and money when you come onboard their team will set you ahead of the competition when applying for a 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, LinkedIn.