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Why You Should Definitely Apply to Jobs When You’re Underqualified

Why You Should Definitely Apply to Jobs When You’re Underqualified

I didn’t look for a full-time job right out of college. I didn’t think I had enough experience to get one, so I only looked at internships. I interviewed and heard back from a few. I decided on one in Nashville and signed a year-long lease because I had hopes that the place where I interned would hire me and Nashville just seemed so fun.
Unfortunately, I quickly realized that the agency where I was interning didn’t generally hire their interns at the conclusion of their internships, and while Nashville is definitely fun, it is also expensive. The $12 an hour I was making as an intern was barely covering my bills, and suddenly I had a mental clock counting down until the three-month internship was over.
Since I would still have nine months left on my lease and student loan payments were looming, I found myself obsessively searching for jobs in a city filled with people my age doing the same thing.
At first, I only applied for entry-level jobs for which I could check off every “requirement” they listed in the job description. Then, on a whim, I applied for a job that wanted me to have more years of experience than I had. In the cover letter, I explained why I thought the work I had been doing equated to the years of experience for which they were looking.
I didn’t expect to hear back. They emailed me within a week.
The agency received my resume and didn’t think I was a good fit for the role for which I had applied. Shocker. However, they had another job opening that wasn’t yet posted that they thought would be a good fit.
[RELATED: After the Application: How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Hired]
That job didn’t end up working out, but it gave me the courage to apply to other jobs for which I didn’t necessarily check off all the boxes.
I realized that while companies would prefer someone who is exactly what they want, they’re willing to consider someone who doesn’t have all the requirements if that person can explain why the qualities they’re lacking don’t matter.
I don’t mean you should try to convince them that you don’t need to be able to do something to do a job or that you know as much as someone who has five more years of experience than you. I mean that they will consider you if you give them a reason.
That reason can be, “I don’t know how to use that specific program, but I’ve used comparable ones. I’m a fast learner, and I know I would pick it up in no time. My references can verify that.”
Or maybe, “My years of experience are a little less than what you say is ideal, but I believe that my rigorous coursework and the various internships I have completed give me an experience level similar to people who have been in this field for three years.”
Most companies are willing to take a chance on someone who doesn’t fit the job description perfectly. You just need to tell them why they should.

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