Underqualified? 5 Ways to Convince Employers to Hire You Anyway

Underqualified? 5 Ways to Convince Employers to Hire You Anyway

It’s a long-standing dilemma that plagues many jobseekers, perhaps yourself included – “I need experience to get a job, but how can I get experience if no one will hire me?”

Whether you’re fresh out of college, changing careers, or looking to move up the corporate ladder, it can be difficult to catch a break, especially when you’re up against experienced candidates. Most professionals have been in your shoes at some point or another, so don’t let this get you down. Instead, focus your attention on new ways you can position yourself as the better candidate. Consider following these 5 steps for appealing to potential employers, even without all the qualifications.

  1. Be realistic – First things first, make sure you understand the level of work you can successfully complete. If you are applying for management level positions with no work history or related experience, chances are you won’t hear back from employers. Being confident is the right attitude to have when looking for a job, but being unrealistic about the types of jobs you apply for will waste your time and annoy potential employers. Never be afraid to take an entry-level position if it’s a stepping stone to something better.
  1. Highlight transferable skills – Even if you don’t have all the qualifications for a particular position, you likely have an assortment of transferable skills that would be useful for the position, such as communication and organizational skills. Look closely at the job description and identify which transferable skills the employer is seeking and jot down how your skills compare.
  2. Add volunteer work to your resume – Employment is not the only type of experience that makes or breaks a candidate. Pursue internships with companies in your industry or volunteer with an organization that allows you to build skills and experience relevant to your field. Employers like to see jobseekers that are serious about their career and industry. And who knows, you may even make valuable connections with individuals who could help you in your job search.
  3. Demonstrate your willingness to learn – Believe it or not, employers value trainability just as much as hard skills. However, when you’re up against qualified candidates, simply stating or asserting your willingness to learn may not be enough to convince the hiring manager. Instead, be proactive! Enroll in educational courses, join a trade group or club, and if your field requires certain licensing, sign up for certification classes.
  4. Use a t-format cover letter – A two-column or “t-format” cover letter is ideal when you want to emphasize your fit for a specific position. This cover letter format lists the qualifications stated in the job ad in the left column, and your experience and talents which meet those qualifications in the right column. This helps to keep the focus on what skills you do have and not on what skills you don’t. Need an example? Click here.

We know that it can be frustrating, but keep in mind that the requirements listed on a job ad are sometimes just the employer’s wish list – it can be difficult to find someone who checks all the boxes. So even if you don’t meet every requirement, don’t hesitate to go for it! Good luck!


Posted on August 6, 2015



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