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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 usually a breeze … 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 significantly simpler, more effective, and generally less miserable. (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.


I’ve heard just about every complaint you can imagine about job searching, but the one I hear the most is also the one you have the greatest ability to change.

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.”

Odds are, you’ve been here before. 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.

In my experience, 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!


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 you believe 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.

I get it. Rejection stings, and no one wants to feel disappointed or unwanted.

But after the temporary discomfort of rejection fades away, you’re actually no worse off for having applied to an exciting job and getting turned down. In fact, it’s the exact same outcome as not applying at all, except that you have no regrets because at least you gave it a shot.

So worst-case scenario, you feel bummed for a day or two, but then you’re right back where you were before.

Best-case scenario? You get your dream job!

If you ask me, that’s worth potentially hearing a few “no’s” along the way.

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.


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 résumés and spits out the “best” logical candidate.

(And yes, there *are* algorithms that companies sometimes use for initial screenings, but the actual decision about whether or not you get hired is made by a human being.)

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.


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


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.


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!

Much Love,

Kristen (& Rachel)


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  1. 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.

    1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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:

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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  7. 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.

    1. 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! 🙂

  8. I’ve been doing this a lot since I got laid off. It’s partially because I’m trying to switch careers but also, I am really desperate for any sort of long-term employment at this point. Unfortunately, it seems like no one is interested in my potential to do something I’m not qualified for. I’m so sick of hearing that “It doesn’t matter, you learn on the job anyway!” I’m not getting hired at all. And it’s very frustrating.

    1. Hey Gillian! That’s definitely very frustrating. I wonder if you’ve considered working with a recruiter? In our interview a couple of month’s ago with Susan Levine she emphasized that experience isn’t all that important, BUT that it can be hard for you to persuade an employer of that. That’s partially why a recruiter can be more helpful. They usually have more credibility, as well as (potentially) a relationship with the employer already, so they can vouch for you in a sense. Also, I’m always a fan of the idea of outsourcing part of the job search process!

      1. I have been in contact with some recruiters but they all ghost me after a little bit! I don’t know what I’m doing wrong on that end. But it makes me feel like I have no shot of getting any job because they decide I’m not worthy (I know, this is a limiting belief but it’s kind of hard not to think based on my previous experiences with recruiters!)

        1. Hmm, I doubt the answer is that you’re doing something egregiously wrong! I think, like most professions, there are good, bad, and run-of-the-mill recruiters. And honestly, the good ones are going to be rarer. I think that, unfortunately, there are a lot of recruiters or recruitment agencies that are run more according to numbers and metrics rather than human connection. Which doesn’t mean they don’t exist, of course (in our episode with Susan, she was adamant that they do exist, and that she cares about the human connection piece, at least!). But neither does it mean that you just have to accept the ghosting. If I were in your shoes, I might reach out and basically ask “what gives?!” with the ghosting thing. Like, is this your common practice? If it’s something that they perceive lacking about on your end, then what exactly is it? Again, not because you’re expected to take their answer totally to heart. But just to see what they say, and see if there’s anything you WANT to do differently based on their response.

  9. This was a very refreshing reminder to remember that we are much more than our work experience and education. Sometimes we not only downplay our ability to rise to an occasion, but also others’ ability to see and feel our value through the energy that arrives with our presence (i.e. the interview). Thanks for this!

  10. Thanks so much for this article! I took the passion profile quiz and it was spot on about how I feel. I am picky about job hours and my leftover time but I feel good now that there are more like me that value their own time too. Good job! RB

    1. So glad your profile resonated with you, Richard! You’re definitely not alone in how much you value your non-working hours — you’re in good company! 🙂

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