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Applying While Under Qualified

How to apply for a job you're unqualified for

· career success,Job Hunt,Recruiters

Dear People Ops:

I recently came across my dream job! But, they're looking for five more years of experience than I currently have and a handful of skills I haven't mastered yet. What can I say in my application to help me stand out and make them consider me?

Short answer: Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Before you call me a Debbie Downer, let me explain. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't shoot for a job that is above your current pay grade. But keep in mind hiring managers and recruiters list qualifications because they have a sense of what a candidate needs to excel in a role. Five years is a long time, especially early in a career. It's unlikely a candidate is truly prepared to take on the challenges of a role that far above their current expertise. Taking on a job that requires skills you don't have yet has a very high risk for failure. And that failure will hurt both the company, but also your confidence and your career trajectory.

Before you apply ask yourself "do I truly have what it takes to crush this job?". If the answer is yes, read point 1. If the answer is no, read point 2. Either way, this dream job can help you achieve your career goals.

1. Strategies to apply to a job your under-qualified for:

First: Target jobs a rung or two above yours, rather than five or six. Currently an Associate? Shoot for Senior Associate or Manager rather than Director or VP.

SecondTailor your resume and cover letter to the position. Be very specific about how your previous experience qualifies you for the job. Focus on both transferable but also additive skills, unique skills only you bring to the table.

Third: Reach out to someone in the company through Linkedin or a shared connection and see if you can network your resume to the top of the pile.

2. Strategies to prepare for your dream job:

First: Use that dream job post as a template for what you need to master to advance in your career. Create a step-by-step plan to acquire the skills you need and stick to it.

Second: Start building your network through informational interviewing so your next opportunity can come to you.

Third: Keep hustling. Work hard, and increase your experience level.

Best of luck! Looking forward to seeing you at the top of your field in no time.

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