Tips When Considering Jobs Beyond Your Qualifications

.reach for the stars.

Job applicants who spend a lot of time looking at ads often have the same question: Do I apply for this job if it seems like a reach? Am I wasting my time if I don’t have all of the qualifications?

First, a personal story. The last time I conducted a national job hunt for myself, there were many jobs that appealed to me that were technically beyond my experience level. If I had a strong interest and willingness to write a great cover letter, I applied anyway and stressed the qualifications I DID have for the job. Inevitably, the positions I thought I had no chance at invited me for an interview. Why? Maybe it was because I invested extra time and effort in my materials. Maybe it was because I made a good case and they thought I was worth an interview.

In the end, I was offered and accepted a job that wasn’t exactly a “reach,” but had a lot of growth potential before I had closure on all of the other interviews.

Some things to consider when you apply for jobs that seem beyond your experience:

Job ads are “best case scenarios,” sometimes considered “pie in the sky” descriptions.

In the old days, employers who advertised paid by the word or square inch for a newspaper or magazine ad. Today, with online ads, the sky is the limit. Linking and unlimited space offer employers the opportunity to list EVERY possible skill desired. Do they really expect to find someone who meets every qualification? Probably not.

Case in point, I recently wrote a job description for a client hiring a key team member. Believe me, this ad left no stone unturned; the client wanted to list his dream candidate’s qualifications. He figured it was worth shooting for the moon with the expectation of landing in the stars! If a less qualified but enthusiastic, skilled applicant impressed him, I assure you specific skills would not have been the deciding factor.

If you only apply for jobs you actually qualify to do, your career will never accelerate.

Most employers hope to fill jobs with people who have already done exactly what they need someone to do! No learning curve means less training and less trouble for the new employer. However, if you only apply for jobs that list skills you’ve already accomplished ad naseum, how will you advance your career?

At the very least, you should be reading ads beyond your reach to learn what skills you might want to try your hand at developing in your current job.

Make a point to understand your skills and qualifications. Know your limitations and where you have potential to successfully stretch.

A little self-assessment can go a long way. You must know yourself to sell your skills. If you apply for an interview for a position that is a stretch, be prepared to sell yourself and defend your ability to get the job done. Know what transferable skills you possess that will make you successful. You can apply for “reach” jobs until you are blue in the face, but if you don’t know how to convince the employer that you CAN do the job, even if you haven’t ALREADY done it, you’re going to be looking for a long time.

Keppie Careers – we write your resume, teach you how to apply for the right jobs and encourage, enlighten and empower you for success!

photo by for the love of photography


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June 2008
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