How to Get Hired Even If You’re Underqualified

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You come across a job you really want—great salary, awesome benefits, perfect location, reputable company—but your heart sinks when you realize that you don’t meet all the requirements. What should you do? Should you just forget about that job and resume looking or keep pursuing it? 

It may surprise you to learn that you can apply for a job even if you don’t meet all the requirements in the job posting. Of course, you still have to meet most of them, and some may be non-negotiable (for example, some jobs may legally require employees to have certain certifications). If you’re just missing some of the less important qualifications, you should still go for it. Consider these suggestions for getting hired even if you feel underqualified. If your resume could use some help, contact a resume expert for assistance

Adopt the right mindset

Your mindset during the job search can be a major factor in your success. For example, if you have a negative attitude toward the job, your inclination to work hard to land it may not be as strong as it should. Develop a willingness to accept the challenges and make a serious effort to overcome them. If you’re underqualified, you may need to put in more effort than the average employee to deliver the performance the employer is expecting. Are you up to the challenge? If you really want the job, work hard to get it! 

All experience counts 

When people think about work experience, they usually consider only paid jobs. However, work experience doesn’t have to come solely from paid positions. If you know that your paid work experience won’t help you get this job, consider other experience that could bolster your resume, including internships, volunteer work, and class projects. 

Maybe you spent a few years as a stay-at-home mom—it takes some serious management skills to keep your family and home in order. Do you have a productive hobby, such as art, sports, or gardening? Consider what skills you could extract from those to pad up your resume. If you think far enough outside the box, virtually anything could count as experience. You have to show the hiring manager that you do have what it takes to excel at the job.

Never stop learning

Learning doesn’t stop after you graduate from school; in fact, a lot of learning takes place outside of school. You’ll hardly be able to rise above the average if you only rely on your knowledge from school. Moreover, you may quickly find your skills getting rusty if you don’t continue to hone them. 

You should always be learning and acquiring new skills. Don’t just keep scrolling when you see a job posting with a skill requirement that you don’t meet. If many jobs in your field call for a skill you lack, learn it! Never stop learning, even when you’re not in school. 

Maybe you need to go back to school to learn a skill for your career—don’t be afraid to take that leap! There are also ways to learn a lot of skills without sitting in a classroom. If you really want that job, pick up the skills it demands. You can take classes, seek tutoring from more experienced people around you, or go it entirely alone. While the autodidact route can seem intimidating, if you’re careful about it, you can easily end up ahead of your peers taking classes.

Expand your network

One of the best ways to move forward with a job you feel underqualified for is to make connections within the company. Your chances of getting a job greatly increase when you establish connections at the company before applying. Of course, don’t just use people to get a job—take the time to get to know them first, and make sure you have something of value to offer them in return. As the trust in the relationship grows, you can solicit advice on how to get the job or ask the person to look over your resume. Never simply come out and ask for a job—ask how you can earn the job. Your new friend might just pass on your name to the right person.

You should also maintain your connections with your college professors and any previous employer, whether they gave you paid or unpaid positions. These connections can be of great help when you need references because these people can vouch for you and your experience. Keep them close to you. Think outside the box here, too—you may be able to get great references from people most jobseekers would overlook. 

Being underqualified for a job isn’t a bad thing, nor is it a reason not to apply for it. Develop a positive mindset, consider all your work experience, learn new skills, and make connections that will help you succeed. If you need some coaching on how to get hired despite being underqualified, reach out to our career coaches.

Improve Your Resume or CV