How many colleges did you apply to? I applied to nineteen. Nineteen essays, nineteen copied-and-pasted “When is a time you overcame hardship?” short answers, nineteen rejection or acceptance letters.
Flash forward a few years, and I’m a bit more educated but still the same person. So, here’s another question: How many fresh-out-of-college first jobs did you apply to before you found “the one”?
I’m at thirteen or fourteen right now, but the list is growing.
Unlike my little sister (Hi genius! Go Tigers!), I probably wasn’t cut out for an Ivy League. That didn’t stop me from applying to a couple. When it comes to job applications, the advice I’m giving myself is that I am qualified enough. If the work sounds interesting, why not apply?
Even if I’ve never planned a photo shoot in my life, if I get the job that requires photo shoot setup I’m going to figure out how to do it. Learning experiences have to come from somewhere, right? Learning from doing is a perfectly acceptable style, especially if the work is intriguing to you.
As I move through the job application process, I’m reminding myself that there’s little correlation between perfectly fitting the job description and being great at the work.
As I move through the job application process, I’m reminding myself that there’s little correlation between perfectly fitting the job description and being great at the work. For those in the same boat, here are five convincing ways to apply for a job even when you’re not qualified.
Quite frankly, when companies write up job descriptions it’s their goal to describe the most perfect, amazing, unbelievable (and oftentimes actually impossible) candidate. That might not be you! But that’s also not most people.
Regardless of required qualifications, before you apply to any job, make sure you feel good about yourself. You’re your own worst critic; if you believe in yourself there’s a good chance an employer will too.
Do you help your friends with Instagram captions? That’s basically social media marketing experience. Copywriting too! Do you run an Etsy shop for your digital art or are you a constant Craigslist browser? Spin it into e-commerce expertise. If you have a blog you likely know your way around WordPress, and having finessed your Tumblr theme in 2010 you have HTML knowledge.
But also remember this: The soft skills matter just as much. If you’re adaptable, organized, or open to feedback, talk about it—no spinning required.
Not in the “You should smile more” way. Ew.
Just be yourself—your best-foot-forward, happiest, hire-me self. It’s about energy! People want to work with people who have good stuff going. Someone could be perfect, but not at all friendly. I’m not perfect, but I’m friendly and willing to learn.
Obviously you’ll have a bad day eventually. You don’t (and absolutely shouldn’t) always have to be sunshine-y.
But when it comes to the first impression…show them just how great you are to be around.
If all you have to work with is a cover letter, write a marvelous cover letter.
Explain how that summer internship long ago, though at a natural foods store and certainly not a big-budget tech startup, did indeed bring you to pitch slams and force you into the grant application circuit. Make it personal. Talk about why you care about this company in particular. Was your first date with your long-term boyfriend at the orchestra whose marketing gig you have your eye on? Tell them! They might love an anecdote.
List all the skills that could possibly fit in the skill section, then think of another.
Make sure your resume is updated and in tip-top shape.
If you’re asked for one to three references, list three.
It’s the 21st century, people! Resources abound. Ask around for connections. Scour those LinkedIn employee boards and stalk the team until you find a personal email address. Once you find the person you’re looking for, send a personal but respectful email. Make sure your resume is seen with human eyes and they’ll see that you’re the real deal as well.
Now let’s get to work.
Sophie Vilensky (@sophiavilensky on Instagram and Twitter or if you met her in second grade) is a Real Housewives scholar and naturopath’s daughter. At this point in time these things are very important to her.
BY Sophie Vilensky - August 20, 2020
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.