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How to Get the Job When You’re Under-Qualified

Topics: Career Advice
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You sent in an application for a job that felt just a bit out of your reach. And, low and behold, you were called in for an interview. Now what?

You’d really love to get the job. But, you worry you’re under-qualified. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help increase your chances of being hired, even though you don’t have all the qualifications.

1. Do your homework.

It’s essential to prepare for an interview. You should research the company and the job in order to get yourself ready. This process is that much more essential when you’re under-qualified.

You might want to touch base with someone currently working in that position. Finding someone who works in the industry, or for that company, could be helpful, too. But, taking the time to have a brief conversation with someone working that precise job would be ideal. Even just a 15-minute phone conversation or a brief email exchange could be super helpful. Perhaps you have a connection on LinkedIn or another professional networking site, and you can reach out to them.

Use this conversation as an opportunity to bridge gaps in your knowledge. Is there something about the job itself that you don’t quite understand? Maybe there’s some jargon you need decoded? Be sure to use this connection as an opportunity to iron out any creases in your understanding. Chances are, you’ll be glad you did.

2. Own it.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to cover up your lack of qualifications. Also, never ever lie during any point of the job-search process about your background or experience. It will come back to bite you, it’s unethical and wrong, and you’ll live to regret it.

Instead, you want to own who you are. Come in confident yet humble. You want to project an energy that says both I know I can do this and I have a lot to learn. Be honest and real about the skills you have and the areas where you know you’ll need to grow. And remember, they called you in for an interview for a reason. So, embrace where you are now and be real about what you’re bringing to the table.

3. Emphasize the positive.

Yes, you want to be totally honest with interviewers, always. However, you also want to find ways to lead with the positive as much as possible.

Find opportunities during your interview to express how the background and experience that you do have actually enhance you as a candidate. Your unique skill-set is an advantage, not a drawback.

“Sometimes, it’s a positive to have someone come from left field because you get a fresh eye and an outside perspective,” says Aliza Licht, author and SVP of global communications at Donna Karan International, in an interview with Business Insider.

4. Demonstrate your ability to learn and problem solve.

Chances are that no matter how much you prepare, you’re going to be asked a few questions during the interview that you’re not sure how to answer. Perhaps you’ll be asked if you have experience using a certain technology, for example. Instead of saying that you’ve never used it before and don’t know how, talk about what you do know.

Also, discuss you’d go about learning the new technology or skill. Perhaps tell a story of another time that you learned something new professionally and applied the skills immediately and expertly.

You have been given an opportunity here. These questions are a chance to talk about what a quick and eager learner you are. And, you can show your hiring manager that you know how to work hard and solve problems on your feet.

5. Get used to it.

Here’s the thing about ambition – it means you’re always stretching. A successful professional career requires you to interview for, and do, jobs that you’re a little under-qualified for at first. The fact that you find yourself in this position now simply means that you’re on the right track.

So, don’t let this current state of affairs make you feel badly about yourself. Instead, know that you are stretching professionally, and that’s a good thing. You might as well get used to it. If you’re an ambitious person, this might not be the last time you find yourself in this position.

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