You’ve probably encountered exciting job openings, but you notice that you lack some of the desired qualifications. Is it okay to apply anyway? In most cases, it’s worth taking a chance. Of course, there are some exceptions, like when you have to be an attorney or know how to play the violin. Otherwise, seeing if you can re-frame your background to address the employer’s needs is usually a matter of seeing. Many employment advertisements are more like wish lists than precise formulas, so there is substantial room for flexibility.
Look at three of the most common situations where you can make a case for why you are a candidate worth considering.
When You’re Changing Careers
Do you want to switch to a new industry or a different kind of position? Many adults have successfully transitioned at various stages in their professional lives. A career change could help you discover a job you’ll love.
These strategies will help you make the switch:
- Research the field. Before making such a big move, do your research carefully. Clarify your reasons for the switch so that you can explain them to an employer and yourself. Look up data on starting salaries and employment prospects.
- Interview colleagues. Professionals already working in the field are essential sources. Attend networking events where you can make new contacts. Join groups on LinkedIn and reach out to someone whose profile looks interesting.
- Focus on transferable skills. Review your resume to see how you can apply what you’ve done to your new area of interest. Many tasks are similar even when the job title changes.
- Ask for referrals. Your current network is still an asset. See if you know someone who can introduce you to others who may be willing to share advice and job leads.
When You Lack Experience
Maybe you’re brand new to the job market or have limited experience. You can still impress employers with your talents and accomplishments.
Try these techniques to highlight your talents and gain some experience:
- Volunteer your services. Build up your resume while you advance a worthy cause. Offer your assistance to a charity you already support, or call your local volunteer clearinghouse. Propose a project that will give you valuable experience.
- Do an internship. While internships are for students, there are also programs for adults. Contact companies where you want to work and ask about formal or informal opportunities.
- Polish your cover letter. Customizing your cover letter is even more critical when your resume needs support. Develop engaging stories that present your skills and abilities. Ask friends and family for feedback.
When You’re Missing Specific Skills
Soft skills can be just as essential as your computer knowledge. With a few extra steps, you may be able to prove that you can do the job even if you’re unfamiliar with a program that could be outdated by next year anyway.
- Study the job description. Review the qualifications to see which requirements are essential or less significant. While an international company might like each employee to be multilingual, it may not be a substantial part of the position you’re seeking.
- Pick out keywords. Automatic programs and human resources departments focus heavily on keywords these days. You may need to look elsewhere if a particular skill is stressed repeatedly.
- Continue learning. On the other hand, you can keep strengthening your qualifications. Take advantage of training on the job or in your free time.
If you’ve done your homework and concluded that you’re an excellent fit for the position, ask to be considered. Even if you’re missing a few items on the qualifications checklist, you’ll feel better knowing you made an effort. Plus, you may even land your dream job.