I’ll let you in on a secret: most people who are successful in getting a job aren’t fully qualified for the job. What on earth? I hear you ask.
Well, what they have done, quite skillfully, is demonstrate how their experience, skills and attitude would be transferred into the job they want to do.
This issue is one the most common questions that comes up in career coaching. During my time as a recruitment consultant, I would regularly see a role that I knew a client was perfect for, yet they would claim they weren’t qualified for it.
They would have quite a two-dimensional outlook on their capabilities and would limit their search to finding opportunities that were a natural progression from their current role.
To do this question justice, I am going to split it up into the what and how:
Do I Apply For A Job I Am Not Fully Qualified For?
Where do you feel your qualifications are lacking? If it is a qualification that is essential to your ability to do job then you may just have a point.
However, don’t let that stop you. Look again at the person spec: is that diploma or training course part of the ‘essential skills?’
If yes, is it something you are currently working towards? Showing willing or that you are partly working towards the required qualification may give you a foot in the door.
If it isn’t a certificate standing in your way, could it be your confidence? Having sat on the ‘other side’ of the interview table for many a year, let me reassure you that the personal specification produced is usually the ideal candidate.
Often, the person who is currently in the role doesn’t hold the skills and experience that they are looking for in the new recruit.
Let’s be blunt, are you NOT applying because of the chance you may not get the job? Then you won’t EVER get the job as you AREN’T APPLYING.
Right, I will stop shouting at you and tell you how you can demonstrate how you are suitable for a role, even when you think you don’t match all the criteria.
How to Get A Job You Are Not Qualified For?
So if yes, how do I get it?
This is where I hand it back to you. You can’t guarantee you are going to get it, but by reviewing your experience through a new perspective, you will increase your chances of getting an interview.
So, when you are looking at the job description and the person specification, what percentage match do you think you have? 20%? 90%? 50%? What will get you to interview through your CV or application form is your ability to show your transferable skills and experience.
Consider all of these points before you decide you aren’t qualified enough:
1. You have learnt something new quickly
This shows your ‘fluid intelligence.’ Your ability to learn. It could be processes, systems or a subject – and then you applied it. Quickly.
What was it and how can you show it was successful? If you are currently studying, make sure you include this on your application form; especially if it is related to the role! You don’t have to wait for the course to be completed to shout about it.
2. You worked in the same sector/industry but in a different role
You are able to bring your knowledge of different departments or roles and also discuss how these interact with the role you are applying for. Simple.
3. You implemented or took part in change
Any new role, even if you are moving internally within the same company, means that you have to be positive about change.
A role may be recruited for because of change – restructures, new business or management movement – so showing you have experienced this, and you have resilience and a solution-focused approach can give you extra brownie points.
4. You held the same role but in a different sector/industry
Often this is the default way that people move across roles; however, it is underused as a way to highlight your suitability.
If the ‘qualification’ for the role is sector knowledge, you are able to show how your fresh eyes can be used to impact the role (whilst understanding the day-to-day needs of the job).
5. You were the organisation’s client (i.e. you worked in the sector their clients are based in)
This usually makes employers sit up and listen. Having spent time ‘on the other side’ you will have an insight that’s better than any qualification. You will understand what the sector needs and wants, from the point of view of a customer or client.
6. Your lived experience
Dependent on the role or sector you are looking to go into, this lived experience could vary from volunteer roles, hobbies to actually living the life of the clients they serve.
So, in answer to your questions, dear reader:
Do I apply for a job I am not fully qualified for? Yes, otherwise you won’t ever get it!
How do I get it? Tell them how your experience will apply to the role.
Over to you!
Have you applied for a job you thought you weren’t qualified for and got it? Share your experiences with us in the comment box below.
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Clara Wilcox is a straight-talking, practical and experienced coach helping clients navigate the tricky waters of returning to work, career changes and professional development.
The Balance Collective is a social enterprise focused on improving the lives of parents, by working together to build inner confidence and promote a healthy work/life balance.