You found the perfect job, but it requires four years of experience and you only have two. Give up? No way. Hiring managers are looking for someone who is going to be a good long-term fit for their company and amount experience isn’t a make or break factor in that decision. However, if you don’t meet the minimum requirements, you will have to work a little harder. Go out of your way to explain why you will do well in the position. Take a look at these tips on how to apply for a position you may be underqualified for.
Although cover letters are optional for some applications— I once had an interviewer tell me she had never seen and didn’t care about my cover letter— be sure to write one if you don’t meet the minimum requirements. Whether or not you specifically mention your lack of _______ or not is up to you, but definitely don’t lie. Focus on transferable skills and past success in your cover letter.
If the position calls for proficiency in Adobe Dreamweaver and you’ve used Publisher and WordPress, be sure to include that. Follow up that information with an example of a time when you learned a new skill quickly. Showing that you have transferable skills, and that you know how to apply those to new situations, will go a long way towards making up for the requirements you’re missing.
Be sure to highlight your past accomplishments. The position requires four years of experience and you only have two? If you had a record of success in those two years, it stands to reason that you will continue having success for the next two- and more. Did you exceed your sales quota? Did you head up a major project by yourself or supervise others? Most importantly, did you have success in something that will be one of your duties for this job? Talk about your most pertinent successes and how you will use those experiences to meet— and exceed— the expectations of this new position.
Are there times when you shouldn’t apply for a job if you don’t meet the minimum requirements? Yes. Be realistic about your job search goals. Applying for jobs that you’re underqualified for— especially if you have to answer a questionnaire in the application and admit that you’re underqualified— is a riskier business than applying for jobs where you meet all the requirements. If you have a job and are simply leisurely looking for a better one, apply to “reach” jobs all you like. If you need to be employed yesterday, remember that jobs where you meet all the requirements will probably be the most efficient use of your time.
Best of luck in your job search, and tell us about your experiences in the comments below! Or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb