Here’s how to get that job, even if you’re underqualified

Don’t let yourself be discouraged when dreaming of taking that next step in your career.  You may think you are unqualified for a position but you may be more qualified than you think!  As we’ve talked about in previous posts there is a lot you can do to prepare for making a successful job transition.  This article highlights some ideas to keep in mind during your job search.  Best of luck!

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Typical job search wisdom says you shouldn’t send off resumes to jobs you know you just don’t have the qualifications to land. But there are some circumstances, especially in tech, where a job might be just beyond your reach, but still attainable if you know how to work what you have to its full potential.

Here are a few strategies to help you craft a job-seeking persona that will help you shoot beyond your experience level. After all, if you’re trying to break into a new field, how is it possible for you to have 3-5 years experience anyway? Try these tips instead of writing off your ideal job as a lost cause.

Showcase the skills you do have

You might not tick every box they seek, but it’s possible that you tick some boxes with more gusto than anybody else applying. Play up what you do have, and then take the focus away from their list and make your own list—you might have skills they didn’t realize they needed for their open position. Make a case that your unique combination of skills is actually even better suited for the job, and then go on to explain how and why.

Focus on your potential

Even if you don’t have a specific knowledge base or set of skills, show you have the desire and potential to learn whatever you’ll need to know. Play up your motivation and drive. Emphasize the speed of your learning curve, and explain how quickly you acquired expertise in something previously. Don’t just tell them you’ll hit the ground running and pick up what you don’t have on the fly. Show them how you’ve done this throughout your career.

Fill in your gaps

Use your cover letter to provide context for whatever skills and experience you lack, and as a way of smoothing over the holes they might see in your resume. Make an upbeat, short-but-sweet case for why they ought to give your resume, despite its holes, a second look. Be honest. You’re not a perfect candidate, but you might just be the perfect person for the job.

Hold the recruiter’s hand

Don’t just slap down the bare facts of your skills and experience and hope whoever reads your resume is trained to read between the lines and construct your ideal candidacy for you. Connect the dots for them. Synthesize everything into one big picture for them. Make it clear—in your cover letter, on your resume, and in the interview.

Stay positive

In your honesty, stay away from negative language like “I don’t know…” “I’m not qualified to…” or “I’ve never done…” Frame things with a bit more optimism, like: “I’m eager to explore…” “I’d love to work on…” etc. Be aware of what you don’t know and don’t have going for you right now, but also make it clear that you are conscious of what you lack and are eager to do what needs to be done to get up to speed.

When in doubt, ask

If you’re on the fence and not sure whether to throw your application into the pile, send a quick email off to the recruiter asking them to clarify what they mean by “proficiency in _____.” It will save both parties time and energy in the end.

Give them what they don’t even realize they want

If you want it badly enough and have the drive and guts to go for it, you’re halfway there. Concentrate on showing your passion and tenacity. The rest, unless you’re way off the requirements mark, can usually be learned on the job with enough work behind the scenes. Show the proper level of excitement, demonstrate how close you are to being their ideal, and let them see just how hard you’ll work to get up to speed.

Bonus tip: If you really want that job, prepare, prepare, prepare!  Conduct some informational interviews with people in your target position, see what they really do and what skills are actually needed for the position.  Learn as much as you can and run with it!


Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWUSA is here to help you along the way with Resume Writing Services, Cover Letter Writing, CV’s, LinkedIn Profiles Updates, and more.  Contact us now for a free consultation and resume evaluation!