5 Convincing Ways to Apply for a Job Even When You’re Not Qualified

Career Development

5 Convincing Ways to Apply for a Job Even When You're Not Qualified | Wit & Delight
A Model Sitting on a Stool Juggling – Photo by John Rawlings

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.

1. Convince yourself first.

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. 

2. Think of your skills in…different ways.

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. 

3. Be pleasant.

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.

4. Utilize the application in every way you can.

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.

5. Connect with someone real.

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.

BY Sophie Vilensky - August 20, 2020

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Rose Evans
August 30, 2020 12:07 pm

Hello… The statistics are always real – college grads do make more than those with a degree…. but evening going back to 2012 US Bureau of Labor estimated that college grads earn about $350 more per week… fear NOT ! In the eight plus years as a college educated Human Resources professional.. Here are my tips : 1) Error Proof your Resume 2)Add a Cover Letter to stand out 3) If you have the email or contact details of the recruiter it does not hurt to reach out 4)Focus on the transferable skills and what you can do for the… Read more »

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