Why you should apply for jobs you’re not qualified for

{Psst … Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of this post to get a FREE audio where we’re sharing 3 tips for HOW to apply for jobs you’re not qualified for.}

As you can probably imagine, a lot of the people I coach are currently on the hunt for a new job. Some of them are desperate for a new job, like, yesterday … and others are happy where they’re at for now, but know this isn’t their “forever” career, so they want to be open to new opportunities.

Whatever your reason for looking for a new job, I wish I could tell you with complete sincerity that job searching is always easy, quick, and enjoyable … but most of the time, that’s a big fat lie.

Now, I’ve taken enough clients successfully through the job searching process that I know for a fact there are ways to make the job hunt much more inspiring, simple, and effective. {We actually provide a detailed worksheet in our Passion Profile Short Course all about “Job Searching According to your Values,” which has been a game-changer for our clients.}

But most of the time, job searching kinda sucks. Not to be a total downer, but I think most of you would agree that it can be time-consuming, frustrating, and overwhelming … and worst of all, it can make you question yourself and your abilities.

THE BIGGEST COMPLAINT I HEAR ABOUT JOB SEARCHING

I’ve heard just about every complaint you can imagine about job searching (and I’ve coached quite a few people into new perspectives about it), but the complaint I hear the most is actually the one that’s easiest to fix.

More than anything else, I hear clients tell me, “I found a few jobs I would absolutely love, but I’m not qualified for them, so there’s no use applying.”

I’m willing to bet most of you have experienced this. You find an incredible-sounding job, but it asks for 6-8 years of experience, and you only have 4 … or it’s in a different industry than you’re in now … or there are a few bullet points in the job descriptions that you’ve never done before.

So you write it off and settle for something that you’re less excited about, but 100% sure you can do.

Women seem to do this more often, but I’ve seen plenty of men limit themselves this way, too.

And that’s exactly what’s happening when you do this — you’re hugely limiting yourself from potentially amazing opportunities!

WHY WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES

It seems obvious why so many of us do this. If we’re not fully qualified for the job, then it’s a waste of time to apply, right? We don’t want to waste our time or the employer’s time.

That seems like a logical reason, yes, but I don’t believe it’s the real reason we hold ourselves back.

What’s really going on is … well, it’s 2 major things:

1. We’re terrified of being rejected. And the more you want a particular job, the worse the rejection will feel. So if you don’t think you have a really good chance of getting the job, you’ll likely play it safe and protect yourself from massive disappointment. You may use “I’m not fully qualified” as an excuse to stay in your comfort zone.

But think about it … what if you pass over the great job because you’re not 100% qualified, and then you still get rejected by the good-enough, back-up-plan job? That will feel really bad. At least if you get turned down by the great job, you’ll think, “Well, maybe I just need a bit more experience and then I can try again in the future.” But in the best-case scenario, you could land your dream job? Best case scenario of applying for the “meh” job? … You have a “meh” job.

So, it’s actually more emotionally risky to apply to only mediocre jobs that you’re fully qualified for.

2. Our self-doubt takes over and we feel inadequate for the great job. We assume there are tons of other applicants out there with all of the qualifications (and then some!), so we figure, “Why bother?”

Well, I’m telling you, you should bother! Why? Because you’re probably forgetting a huge factor in getting hired.

THE HUMAN FACTOR

Most of us forget that the people looking at our résumés, interviewing us, and making a final decision are humans. And they want to connect with other capable, enthusiastic, personable humans.

I, for one, used to unconsciously think of the hiring process as an impersonal computer algorithm that impassively compared all the resumes and spit out the “best” logical candidate.

But hiring is a much more emotional process than most of us believe, so you can’t underestimate the power of your “soft skills.” As in, the natural, innate personal characteristics and strengths you bring to the table that have no place on a résumé.

twitter-birdDon’t underestimate the power of your soft skills when applying to jobs.

THIS IS GREAT NEWS

Who you are as a person matters when you’re applying for a job, and often it can overcome other “hard skills” where you may be “lacking.”

Your natural optimism and dedication to your team can be more valuable than never having used Salesforce (they can teach you that!).

Being a natural connector and a people-person can make you a better leader than someone with “official” management experience.

Being a fast learned and a self-starter is more valuable to an employer than someone meets all the job criteria, but is unmotivated and set in their ways.

THIS SERIOUSLY WORKS

I just recently coached a client who was considering not applying for her dream job at an amazing start-up because she only met 75% of the requirements in the job description, even though she knew she could do the job extremely well.

I told her to definitely apply anyway and to be completely candid about her enthusiasm and love of the company in her application and interview. (You’d be amazed how far authentic enthusiasm can get you in the interview process.)

I wasn’t surprised when she emailed me ecstatically a few weeks later to tell me about her job offer.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I won’t deny that there are some jobs that you’re straight-up NOT qualified for. You won’t catch me applying to engineering or accounting jobs anytime soon (that really would be a waste of everyone’s time!).

But if you really believe it could be a great fit, but you’re not 100% qualified … apply anyway.

twitter-birdYou’ll never grow unless you get uncomfortable and try something you’re not 100% prepared for.

If this has inspired you to apply for a job you thought you weren’t “good enough” for … leave a comment to let me know!

And now that you know you absolutely CAN apply for jobs you’re not 100% qualified for, you probably want to know HOW to do it so that you actually have a good chance of getting the job (even without all of the required experience).

So Rachel and I recorded a 35-minute audio for you where we’re sharing our top 3 tips for how to apply for jobs you’re not 100% qualified for. You’re going to want to know this stuff before you start sending out applications!

Enter your name and email below, and we’ll send the audio straight to your inbox!

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)

11 Comments // ADD COMMENT

11 comments

  • Kathryn

    Thank you for writing on this subject matter and sharing your great insight. You are so very right about the importance of soft skills (human element) when someone is lacking in hard skills. It is true and I have experienced it. I have intuitively found that if there isn’t a human connection between the interviewer(s) and interviewee and vice versa that it does make a difference in getting a job offer or even further being interested in getting one. The hiring staff is looking for persons to fit in with their culture and again it goes both ways – and so I agree it is not all about the hard skills and one should always apply for jobs they are interested in despite their lacking in some of the hard skills because most likely they would still be called for an interview. Thanks for touching on another great subject as have been all your previous writings.

    • Kristen Walker

      You’re totally right about companies wanting to hire people who fit in with their culture! And the “hard skills” of any job are easy to teach. It’s the “soft skills,” like relating well to other people, being a natural innovator, or seeing challenges as opportunities (AKA, the awesome things that make you who you are as a person) that can’t be taught … and that’s why they’re SO much more valuable.

      Thanks for sharing your experience with this, Kathryn!

  • GOLDROSE

    Thanx for this wonderful piece. It encouraged me!

    • Kristen Walker

      You’re so welcome! Hopefully this inspired you to go out and apply for some awesome jobs! 🙂

  • Jessica H

    I could go on and on about how women are self-saboteurs because we’re prone to “imposter syndrome” (it’s an actual thing!) but you really nailed the importance of taking that leap when something is important to you. So much of a job is learned once you’re ON the job, so stop waiting for the one you’re perfectly suited for to come along. How boring would that be?? I also highly recommend the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg!

  • Stefanie

    So, so true! I switched industries, but before I did I was freaking out that my major would limit me in applying for jobs outside of my direct experience. That ended up being so far from the truth. Even the “hard skills” are more transferable than you think. Companies want smart, hard working, enthusiastic employees! I ended up writing an article of my own last month to encourage other people to venture outside of their degrees:

    https://medium.com/the-clearlink-story/major-in-how-to-learn-39d8a8586c90

  • Megan

    I actually just applied for a job I’m not fully qualified for and got it immediately. In fact, they said I was at the top of their list and my interview reaffirmed it. Now, I’m being told by my current boss and other people I know (and I already knew this as well) that this job I just got is a big deal and they are very very smart there. I remember a time where I had a similar job a while ago and while my optimism and positive nature helped me get a good rec letter from there, I wasn’t necessarily the strongest employee as far as the task at hand. I am freaking out and while I feel I was very honest in my interview, I still worry they are hiring me thinking I am more awesome than I am. In your opinion, do you think when companies are interviewing you and they can obviously see you have less experience (years-wise) on your resume then what they asked for and you outwardly tell them, “I don’t have experience in that thing you are asking me, but I’ve worked with people that do and have assisted them,” that they are feeding off your good vibes during the interview? I just worry I’ve duped them. I always worry I dupe someone into hiring me and I will fail miserably when I get there. That’s probably a self-esteem issue there.

  • Leslie

    Megan- I’m with you. Entering a similar experience myself. Esteem may be one thing but I do feel very under-experienced for what I’m about to “hit the ground running” with.

  • Clarity on Fire

    […] summer Kristen wrote about why you should apply for jobs you’re not qualified for — because SO many of our clients find awesome opportunities, but don’t feel experienced enough […]

  • Veronica

    I’m so glad I came across this. I recently applied for a job that I never thought I would get a call back for. I had the interview and was offered the job a few hours later! I accepted impulsively since I was so glad,then began to have doubts of being way under qualified and wasting the company’s time by accepting but then I thought… ehh what the hell, go for it! I’m super nervous but also excited for the challenge and the obvious pay increase. Thanks for writing this. I am absolutely not retracting my acceptance and will not play these ugly mind games with myself but will just try and be happy they must have saw something good in me to take a chance.

    • Rachel East

      Hey Veronica — Congratulations! That’s so exciting! I am SO happy that you didn’t back out of this job. Remember, the hired you for MANY reasons. Namely, they probably liked you as a person and think you’ll be a great fit for this job. They can teach you anything you don’t already know. That’s the easiest thing for them! What they CAN’T teach is someone who has a great personality, or who they think will fit well on their team. You don’t have to go in there on your first day feeling too nervous or “less than,” and you don’t have to be constantly anxious about messing up. They already like you, or they wouldn’t have hired you. Your only job is just to make your best effort and ask questions when you need to. You’ve got this! 🙂