It’s common, applying for a job you’re not qualified for. And you know that your application is going to hit the trash can almost instantly, yet you can clearly see yourself not only executing each of the functions of the role, but excelling at delivering on the role’s objectives. So the mission, transform how everyone sees your employment history to match that of a role you have never before undertaken.
Before we get into this discussion, let’s get one thing clear…finding a candidate that matches a job description to the letter is almost impossible! For many employers the job advert reflects their ultimate wish list. So if you’re not a cookie cutter replication of that outlined in the advertised role, don’t sweat it. You are still in with a chance even if you don’t believe you’re qualified for the job.
In weighing up whether or not you should apply for a role that seems out of your reach you need to assess just how under qualified you are. Do you have two years of experience versus the ten they are asking for? If so you’re probably not at the required level the position demands. If you have never managed a team before but coached basketball teams for the past five years, you can demonstrate direct experience. The fact that you attained this skill outside of the office will not matter, so long as you can make a relevant connection between your social experiences and professional development.
Reframing a job role is an added hurdle in the job application process, but there is no gain without a little pain. The initial task though, understanding the role. Knowing that the contents of the advertised job spiel are representative of both desired and essential job standards, you need to ascertain what is required and what is advantageous. And if I can give you a little advice here, focus on your skill set, not your job titles. A friend of mine who was the General Manager at a small insurance advisory company for many years before the business was sold was recently approached to consider a marketing role. She had experience with business development, social media, website development, campaigning, public speaking etc etc. Her skill set was highly transferable so far as the job requirements were concerned, despite her job title and industry of expertise being radically different.
Many of us fear we are not qualified for a role simply because we are looking to move from one industry to another. Changing fields can be difficult. I mean, how similar is the retail industry to the healthcare industry? The leap is not impossible. Just believe in yourself and others will too. When looking to transition from one profession to another, it is important to keep in mind how your skill set relates to that sought. Avoid using industry jargon understood only by the industry you are leaving, and focus on your talents such as sales, communications, networking and so forth and how those skills can assist you to succeed in the new role. And always lead with a positive statement…My experience with ABC would be of benefit to your business and its endeavour to grow because of XYZ reasons. Paint a prosperous picture of yourself and never open with I know I haven’t worked in this industry before, but….it’s unlikely you will make the first round of cuts.
Admittedly a lot of applications are online these days. It’s difficult to get past the hurdle of being under qualified when the application process begins on such an impersonal note. Don’t allow yourself to be digitally screened out! If you’re really hungry, you will find a way to connect with the hiring manager on a human level. This may require some ingenious forethought, however, where there is a will there is a way. Once you have identified the right person to connect with, write a letter. Or a LinkedIn message. Or show up at the seminar they are speaking at. Bottom line, get in their face and leave a lasting impression by explaining how you can meet the essential requirements of the job. In most instances this translates as someone who can demonstrate learning and development, an understanding of the business and/or role, the challenges the organisation faces and how these can be overcome. Someone who demonstrates initiative, can work well in a team and brings a great sense of humour to the workplace will resonate with them as someone of value. So don’t be afraid to be unconventional with proving your relevancy to the role and the organisation.
Alternatively a speculative application may be what is in order. Send a communication direct to the hiring manger. Acknowledge the position on offer and that you understand it is geared towards someone more senior, but explain your keen interest and that you want to join the team in another capacity. It will be a hit or miss situation, but most jobs are not advertised. Actually I could write a novel on the number of ways job seekers have landed their jobs!
If you confine yourself to responding only to advertised job roles outside of your traditional field of expertise, you will be denying yourself a lot of potential opportunities, and one of which that will transpire into a new career for you. Take a ‘think outside the square’ approach and create your job interviews. You can prove your value with only a thirty percent alignment to the job descriptions ‘essential’ hiring conditions.