Key advice for job seekers – apply for jobs you are clearly qualified to do! However, it’s also clear that there will be times when you need to apply for jobs that may be a bit of a reach. I don’t think that this is contradictory advice. The important thing is to demonstrate that you are qualified to do what it is you want to do. Don’t assume that anyone reading your resume is going to give you “credit” for anything that you don’t clearly show that you can do.
Here are some things to think about…
Job ads are “best case scenarios,” sometimes considered “pie in the sky” descriptions.
In the old days, employers who advertised paid by the word or square inch for a newspaper or magazine ad. Today, with online ads, the sky is the limit. Linking and unlimited space offer employers the opportunity to list EVERY possible skill desired. Do they really expect to find someone who meets every qualification? Probably not.
Focus on accelerating your career.
Most employers hope to fill jobs with people who have already done exactly what they need someone to do! No learning curve means less training and less trouble for the new employer. However, if you only apply for jobs that list skills you’ve already accomplished ad naseum, how will you advance your career?
Think about the touch points between what you have to offer and what the employer wants. Highlight those points and connect the dots.
Make a point to understand your skills and qualifications. Know your limitations and where you have potential to successfully stretch.
A little self-assessment can go a long way. You must know yourself to sell your skills. If you apply for a position that is a stretch, be prepared to sell yourself and defend your ability to get the job done. Know what transferable skills you possess that will make you successful. You can apply for “reach” jobs until you are blue in the face, but if you don’t know how to convince the employer that you CAN do the job, even if you haven’t ALREADY done it, you’re going to be looking for a long time. I cannot overemphasize the importance of your transferable skills.
Here are some additional thoughts from Kathy Hansen at Quint Careers:
1. Consider playing up school and other unpaid experience.
2. Don’t apply for jobs for which you’re grossly underqualified, but do remember that job postings and employment ads are often employer wish lists.
3. Indicate your flexibility and willingness to learn or gain additional training.
4. Find out more about the employer’s needs.
5. Consider a career portfolio with work samples.
6. Consider volunteering to work on a unpaid trial basis.
photo by Joe Thorn